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Blackhawk Pays $175M for Maine-based E-Commerce Business CashStar

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Originally published by Xconomy on August 30, 2017.

CashStar, a company that makes digital gift cards and commerce software, has sold to financial tech business Blackhawk Network for $175 million in cash.

Venture capital-backed CashStar will stay in New England, keeping offices in Waltham, MA and Portland, ME, where its headquarters are located. The company is becoming part of Blackhawk’s digital and incentives business, and CashStar CEO Ben Kaplan is staying with the company, according to a press statement.

Blackhawk (NASDAQ: HAWK) wanted CashStar because of its experience marketing, selling, and distributing digital and plastic gift cards for a client list that includes Sephora, Starbucks, Gap, The Home Depot, Uber, and Walmart, according to the statement. Pleasanton, CA-based Blackhawk was founded in 2001 as a division of grocery retailer Safeway, offering software that provides consumers gift cards, complimentary prepaid products, payment services, and other incentives to the grocery industry, according to regulatory filings. Soon, it expanded to other retail sectors.

Blackhawk entered the public markets in 2013 with a $230 million IPO. Safeway remained the majority shareholder. Blackhawk has been an active acquirer of companies that offer digital and physical gift products targeting consumers, including Spafinder, Samba, The Grass Roots Group, and the parent company of GiftCards.com—all of which it acquired in 2016, according to public filings.

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