The founders of lastminute.com look set to share £40 million - after the former darling of the dotcom boom agreed a takeover by rival Travelocity.
Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox were yesterday expected to finally realise the value of their stakes following the £577 million offer, which comes five years after the stock floated amid the shortlived excitement surrounding tech listings.
The pair, who founded the business in 1998, had been sitting on far greater paper fortunes but the rollercoaster ride for lastminute.com saw shares peak at 555p but then plunge as low as 17p in the two years following the listing.
Mr Hoberman, who owns 4.6 per cent of the stock, will net £26.9 million when the 165p a share deal goes through, while Ms Lane Fox gets £13.5 million from a 2.4 per cent stake.
It was still possible a counter bid to the proposals from Travelocity owner Sabre could emerge, with the US-based owners of ebookers and Expedia seen as the most likely contenders.
Around 140,000 private investors - most of whom were limited to 35 shares in the flotation scramble - would see their stake valued at £57.75 by yesterday's deal.
Those small shareholders had clamoured for a slice of the highest profile of all the internet flotations, but within weeks the bubble had burst.
At the time, lastminute was valued at more than many mainstream retailers, even though it had turnover of less than £4 million in 2000. Even now it is in the red, with bottom-line losses for the six months to March 31 widening to £45.2 million.
The stock was trading at 105p this week, but surged 48per cent last night after it emerged the company had received a takeover approach.
Travelocity owner Sabre confirmed its proposals yesterday and said it would look to keep lastminute.com as its lead brand in the UK and Europe.
Mr Hoberman, aged 36, will also remain involved with the business as chief executive of the newly combined lastminute and Travelocity Europe operation.
Despite the sale, Mr Hoberman said he was excited by lastminute's prospects under the resources of a larger company.
He added: "My role will be to build out the vision I set out on a piece of paper seven years ago. It was a partnership then, and it's a partnership now but with different people.
"This is not about the amount I own, but the ability to execute on the vision and this will give us even greater resources."
Ms Lane Fox, who ended her day-to-day involvement in November 2003, is said to be on the road to recovery following a serious car crash in Morocco last May.
Sabre said the addition of lastminute would enable it to expand its range of offerings to beyond just basic air travel. Lastminute reach includes entertainment tickets and restaurant bookings.
Having completedple ted 14 acquisitions in the past three years, lastminute owns and operates online brands including holidayautos.com and travelprice.com.
It employs 2,000 people, but the company said it was too early to rule out any job cuts as a result of the proposed tie-up.
Henk Potts, of Barclays Stockbrokers, said it was unlikely the market would mourn the departure of lastminute.
He added: "It's now not the dynamic industry it once was. At first lastminute stole a march but the big airlines and hotels have their own websites and it's no longer a unique operating environment."
Shares in lastminute.com closed last night up 12.5p at 165.5p.