Gareth Williams is Chairperson and co-founder at Skyscanner, a travel site and app that helps over 80m people a month plan their travel, offering flight, car hire and hotel comparisons.
Gareth’s love for computers began at the age of 11 when, together with his father, he learnt assembly language on the BBC micro site. It was this early interest in how programming could be used to express himself that led him to pursue his career in computing. He went on to study Maths and Computer Science at the University of Manchester. On the first day of the course he met fellow students Bonamy Grimes and physics graduate Barry Smith (Skyscanner co-founders) and they bonded over a shared love of music and coding.
Gareth is a keen skier, having competed competitively in his youth. In his early career years, Gareth would spend his time between work contracts skiing in the Alps, where his brother was based at the time. Gareth became frustrated that it was so difficult to find and compare the cheapest way to get to the Alps from a number of London airports. He felt there must be an easier way.
At a pub brainstorming session with friends Bon and Barry, Skyscanner was created with one Excel spread sheet, and one idea: create a site that compares flight prices for every single commercial airline in the world. At first sharing two salaries between three, Gareth worked on Skyscanner from his spare room, but as Skyscanner began to grow by word of mouth, the three decided to give up their day jobs. They launched the Skyscanner website in 2003.
As CEO and now Chairperson, Gareth’s experience as a developer for financial institutions and retail companies have helped him make Skyscanner one of the top digital travel companies in the world.
In late 2016, Skyscanner was acquired by Chinese travel business Ctrip, in a deal valued at £1.4bn. Skyscanner remains operationally independent. The company employs over 1000 staff in 11 offices across the globe and continues to enjoy impressive growth. Available in over 30 languages, Skyscanner’s app has been downloaded over 70m times.
In his spare time, Gareth enjoys playing chess and has a love for literature and the arts. He is renowned among colleagues for his incessant drawing during meetings.