A business deal between friends has the potential to turn things sour, and fast.
Luckily, that’s not been the case for Chicago entrepreneurs George Bousis and Tyler Spalding. Both CEOs, Bousis and Spalding have been friends since their respective companies Raise and Tastebud launched a few years ago.
Today, the companies announced that Raise has acquired Tastebud for an undisclosed amount.
“The city of Chicago and the tech scene here is relatively small, but it’s a close-knit group. Everyone is fairly interested in one another’s companies, but they also want to build things together,” Bousis said (pictured left). “We knew from day one that we both wanted to do this. It was just a matter of how we got it done and how much time it would take, and it was a lot simpler than what we thought.”
Raise, an online marketplace for buying and selling unused or unwanted gift cards for cash, is becoming somewhat of a mammoth in Chicago’s tech community. By adding Tastebud’s predictive geolocation technology to the mix, Raise continues to revolutionize the traditional shopping experience by sending gift card deals via push notification to shoppers based on their location, their style, and their shopping preferences.
“If someone walks into Chipotle, we’ll be able to send them real-time offers so that by the time they’ve actually ordered, they’ll be able to use that currency at the point of sale,” Bousis said.
In addition to its technology, Tastebud brings hundreds of extant retailer partnerships with malls and shopping centers to the table.
All 10 of Tastebud’s employees will join Raise’s team, and Spalding said he’ll fill the role of chief strategy officer.
For Spalding — who’s entertained more than one acquisition offer in the past — the prospect of working with Raise’s high-growth and high-quality team helped sway his decision.
“We’ve all recognized how aligned our business objectives were,” Spalding said (pictured right). “Raise not only has a massive company that’s well-capitalized with a great team of investors, but for us, knowing the team and the culture we’d be working with really sealed the deal.”
Spalding said that in the past couple of months, Raise has hired over a hundred new employees — with plans to hire a hundred more by year’s end.
The acquisition follows a busy year for Raise, who in January closed a $62 million Series B. Over the last year, they’ve launched an iOS app and an Android app and have seen their revenue triple.
For now, they plan to expand their already 50,000 square foot office by 25,000 more square feet.
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