Deep cover and $22M make Hopper the black ops division of the online travel world

Years in stealth mode and $22 million make Hopper the black ops division of the startup world.

Hopper seeks to simplify travel planning. Preparing for a vacation is generally the most unpleasant part of a trip. Slogging through flight searches, price comparisons, hotel reviews, and barrages of travel advice are enough to make you … need a vacation.

This company may be one amongst hoards of apps trying to make the trip planning experience easier, but  it has a couple of interesting things going for it.

One, it was founded in 2007 and has yet to launch.  After five years in stealth mode, Hopper seems more like an undercover agent than a startup.

Two, Hopper has managed to raise a total of $22 million. The Boston-based company announced today that it has raised $12 million led by OMERS Ventures, with participation from existing investors Brightspark Ventures and Atlas Venture, which previously gave money for this undertaking in 2011.

Three, CEO Frederic Lalonde was formerly a VP at Expedia, and his fellow executives also have extensive backgrounds in the travel sector.

Four, Hopper is taking a big data approach to addressing the throbbing pain point that is trip planning.

“Planning a trip can be tedious and frustrating,” said Lalonde in a statement. “At Hopper, we are working hard to transform this process and bring the joy and inspiration back to travel planning.”

Over the past five years, the team has collected more than half a billion pages of data, with plans to hit a billon by the end of the year. This wealth of knowledge will allegedly constitute the largest travel database in the world. Hopper intends to use data analytics to transform the chaotic pool of information into a searchable, manageable, navigable form.

If it ever emerges out of beta, Hopper may do for travel planning what Google did for search.

Just like a spy, Hopper has substantial institutional backing, significant resources, international operations, and is interested in securing in information. The exact nature of the project is classified and only accessible to eyes with express permission.

They say the world is a big, scary place, but not as big or scary as trying to plan a trip around it. This top secret startup should emerge from the cloak of darkness later this year.

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