Aussie entrepreneur’s airline lounge app is snapped up by American Express

An artist’s impression of he planned first class lounge in Singapore. Qantas

Australian tech entrepreneur Zac Altman has struck gold with American Express announcing its acquisition of travel-tech company LoungeBuddy, which Altman cofounded.

LoungeBuddy allows users to identify and book an airport lounge in over 450 locations across the globe, usually for a smaller fee than the airlines charge. It also allows users to scan airport lounges for the benefits they might already be entitled to as well as leave reviews.

The terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed. However, LoungeBuddy was last valued at $US18 million ($25.4 million) in 2015 when it conducted a series A capital raising led by Founders Fund, the venture firm established by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. The series A brought the total amount of money raised by LoungeBuddy to $US4 million ($5.6 million).

This is the second deal Altman has landed. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian entrepreneur’s first venture into taxi bookings, called Taxi Pro, was picked up by Catch of the Day founders Gabby and Hezi Leibovich.

Speaking to the Tech Tea podcast back in 2016, Altman spoke about a string of collapses that hit high profile startups at the time and said founders need to understand “startup success” is hard to achieve.

“I had this naive expectation that things happened overnight,” Altman said in the podcast interview from the US. “They don’t. When you see the behind the scenes of it all, you see it takes grit, determination, and in some respects stubbornness in order to change things.”

“The notion of the overnight success is a farce and there are a lot of really hard-working people, a lot of luck, and opportunity that goes into any success,” Altman said.

Based in San Francisco, Altman founded LoungeBuddy when he was 20 together with chief executive Tyler Dikman and marketing vice-president Brent Griffith. He relocated to the US in 2013.

In a statement, Altman said LoungeBuddy is excited to be working more closely with American Express. The US credit card giant said the acquisition will help enhance lounge access benefits for cardholders.

American Express went on to say that LoungeBuddy would be a wholly owned subsidiary and would continue to be led by its founders.