US firm ezRez acquires Aussie-founded Topguest

Travel rewards redemption company ezRez Software has acquired San Francisco-based start-up Topguest, which includes two Australians among its three co-founders, for an undisclosed sum.


Topguest, a social loyalty check-in app, was founded in mid 2010 by Ozan Onay, Ash Fontana and Geoffrey Lewis. Both Onay and Lewis are Australian.


Based in San Francisco, Topguest rewards users for engaging with brands on social networks. It lets users earn points by “checking in” at locations via social networks such as Facebook.


Topguest allows users to integrate with rewards programs such as Virgin America and IHG Priority Club to earn reward points for check-ins, and receive exclusive offers and bonuses.


For example, a Virgin America Elevate member waiting to board a flight can use Topguest to check in on Foursquare and earn bonus Elevate miles.


In November 2010, the start-up raised $2 million from a host of investors including the Founders Fund, SV Angel, SoftTechVC, Keith Rabois, Val Kepuri, Naval Ravikant and Joe Lonsdale.


Topguest also counts PayPal co-founder and Facebook early investor Peter Thiel as an advisor.


The company has now been acquired by ezRez Software – a software-as-a-service provider of travel, loyalty and payment solutions – for an undisclosed sum.


Founded in 2003, ezRez works behind the scenes with more than 200,000 companies including AirAsia, American Airlines, Intercontinental Hotels, JetBlue, American Express and PayPal.


The company’s back-end technology lets users book hotels and rental cars with points and cash through various companies’ rewards programs.


Collectively, more than 20 billion reward points are redeemed through the ezRez platform annually. The Topguest deal complements ezRez’s existing product suite for loyalty programs.


“We’re seeing our clients wanting to move into the hands of actual users and that is done through mobile technologies,” ezRez chief executive Daniel Farrar said in a statement.


“With Topguest, we can provide that loyalty and social networking engagement over a mobile phone.”


“Topguest has tapped into an exciting niche in the loyalty space, enabling members to generate tangible value from their daily interaction with Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.”


“Loyalty programs, in turn, can leverage this increased engagement to help build stronger brand loyalty and enhance their direct marketing efforts.”


ezRez says all Topguest staff will be joining the ezRez team, but the company will continue to operate and its white label B2B loyalty platform under the current brands.


Lewis says Topguest was created to help companies tap into the social behaviour of consumers, while enabling those consumers to earn more rewards and receive relevant offers.


“The team at ezRez shares our philosophy that loyalty programs can, and should, go beyond their traditional models,” Lewis says.


“We’re excited about joining forces to make a long-term impact on the industry while also bringing tangible benefits to consumers.”


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