Portland’s CashStar acquired for $175M

CashStar, the Portland-based tech company that was a pioneer in the digital gift card space, has been acquired by Calif.-based Blackhawk Network for $175 million.

The all-cash deal means CashStar will be folded into a global player in the digital gift card and payment industries. Blackhawk is publicly traded (NASDAQ:HAWK) and has roughly 3,500 employees. It posted $1.9 billion in annual operating revenues in 2016.

CashStar was founded in 2007 by David Stone (now CEO of local startup Forager) and Steven Boal, who founded Calif.-based Coupons.com, to provide digital gift card solutions to retailers. Its clients have included a who’s who in the retail and food-service industries, from Starbucks to Best Buy to Banana Republic to Office Depot.

The acquisition is not expected to affect CashStar’s local operations, according to CEO Ben Kaplan. It currently has two offices in Portland (one in the Old Port and another on Congress Street near the Maine College of Art) and another in Waltham, Mass. It has 175 employees, 155 of which are based in Portland. Kaplan said the two businesses are complimentary (more on that later) and there’s not much overlap among the workforces that would need to be settled during a consolidation.

He stressed that the acquisition is good news for CashStar’s investors, employees, and the Maine startup community.

“This is a great proof point and a great reflection on the tech community in Maine,” Kaplan said. “It’s important to note the value of what they’re acquiring is based in Maine. The intellectual property, the engineers, the client teams…all of it is in Maine, and staying in Maine and we’re excited about that.”