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Blackhawk Network Acquires CashStar in $175 Million Deal

Blackhawk Network Acquires CashStar in $175 Million Deal

With Blackhawk Networks’ $175 million acquisition of fellow Finovate alum CashStar, we may soon learn just how good digital gifting is going to get.

Talbott Roche, CEO and president of Blackhawk Network, said the deal “strategically enhances Blackhawk’s ability to provide the right digital solutions to our partners to meet the changing needs of business customers and consumers.” She added that the acquisition made Blackhawk “a leading provider in the fast growing, first-party digital (gift card) market.” CEO and president of CashStar Ben Kaplan added that the combination of CashStar’s platform and Blackhawk’s “product breadth and global reach” would deliver “more powerful capabilities and new revenue opportunities for our clients and partners.” The acquisition will make CashStar a part of Blackhawk’s digital and incentives business, with Kaplan remaining on board to manage the business.

The acquisition is an all-cash deal which Blackhawk CFO Jerry Ulrich said would be “at least earnings neutral in fiscal 2017 and meaningfully accretive after synergies in 2018.” Ulrich also anticipates the acquisition will “generate positive cash flow in 2018” as well as boost topline growth.

CashStar’s platform gives retailers the ability to market, sell, and distribute both plastic and digital gift cards. The company offers a Commerce platform for merchants and an Exchange platform for gift card distributors and loyalty program managers. Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Portland, Maine, CashStar demonstrated its Digital Gifting and Incentives platform at FinovateFall 2011. The company added real-time card activation, security improvements, and streamlined ordering in its last platform upgrade in July, and in May, CashStar’s Velocity B2B division helped global prestige retailer Sephora to introduce a B2B gift card program.

This spring, the company partnered with discount gift card marketplace Raise in a deal that will give the Chicago-based startup access to more than 250 merchants and 40 payment processors. CashStar had raised $44 million in funding previous to this week’s acquisition, most recently completing a $15 million Series D in 2015. The company’s customers include Starbucks, The Home Depot, and Uber.

Headquartered in Pleasanton, California, Blackhawk Network demonstrated its GoWallet solution at FinovateFall 2012. Last month, the company partnered with fellow Finovate alum PayNearMe, giving the cash transaction network access to Blackhawk’s retail partners. In May, the San Francisco Business Times recognized Blackhawk’s Roche with its Inspire Award as part of its annual “Most Influential Women in Business” initiative. Also honored by the Times was the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, Teri Llach. Blackhawk Network trades on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker “HAWK” and has a market capitalization of $2.5 billion.