Two-year-old start-up Mobiata – the maker of the popular iPhone travel app FlightTrack – has been acquired by Expedia.
The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Mobiata was founded in November 2008 by Ben Kazez, now 23. The FlightTrack application – which allows users to see a constantly updated status report on airline flights -- generated $1 million in sales within a year of its launch. It's ranked in the top five bestselling iPhone travel apps for 18 months straight in the iTunes store.
Mobiata also has developed hotel reservations app HotelPal, another bestseller.
"With the pace at which mobile traffic to Expedia sites is exploding, we wanted the right team to help us address the sizable opportunity swiftly and successfully," Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement. "There's simply no better company out there doing mobile travel apps with the same level of design sensibility and utility as Mobiata."
The price of the deal was not disclosed, but Expedia called the acquisition its 'most significant investment to date' in addressing the burgeoning mobile market.
Kazez, an engineer, showed a penchant for innovation from an early age. In middle school, he created a computer application that tested a user's ability to differentiate musical pitch, according to AnnArbor.com.
In eighth grade, he swapped his computer skills for flying lessons, creating a website for a flight school in his hometown of Springfield, Ohio.
At age 20, he interned as a software engineer at Apple, working on iCal, the calendar application. He founded Mobiata after fumbling for travel documents in the Minneapolis airport. He was working at language software company Ultralingua at the time.
New York Times technology writer David Pogue on Thursday named FlightTrackPro one of his 10 favorites. "Incredible," he wrote. "Shows every detail of every flight: gate, time delayed, airline phone number, where the flight is on the map, and more. Knows more—and knows it sooner—than the actual airlines do.'