published Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

San Francisco-based OpenTable acquires Chattanooga startup Quickcue for $11.5 million

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    A group of Chattanooga-area developers say that Quickcue, which is now live on the Apple App store, turns long line from a frustration into an opportunity.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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    Bo Ferger, right, CEO of QuickCue, and Jeff Cole, vice president of marketing, together created an app for restaurants and their patrons. Their plan is to distribute the app to fast casual restaurants which can then take better care of customers' specific needs like their fine dining counterparts.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
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OpenTable has bought Chattanooga startup Quickcue for $11.5 million in cash from investors Blank Slate Ventures and Chattanooga Renaissance Fund.

Quickcue, which was founded by entrepreneur Aaron Welch and boosted by local investors like Lex Tarumianz and dozens of others, is the first company from Chattanooga's entrepreneurial class of 2011 to build a successful business model and sell itself for a sizable profit.

The company offers clients, typically fast-casual restaurants, an iPad application for about a penny per customer to help manage wait lists, track customer preferences and offer customized services.

San Francisco-based OpenTable also offers a mobile app, but has traditionally found much of its success on the consumer side. OpenTable is the biggest player in the online reservation booking business, seating more than 12 million diners per month across 30,000 restaurants.

The nine-member Quickcue team will remain in Chattanooga, and OpenTable will continue to support Quickcue's 40 existing customers. However, OpenTable will discontinue Quickcue's current product while it works on a new app that will presumably incorporate features from both companies' offerings, according to the news release.

"We're excited to welcome the talented Quickcue team to our restaurant technology group," said Joseph Essas, chief technology officer of OpenTable. "We're looking forward to working with the Quickcue engineering team to accelerate our efforts aimed at providing our customers with the most sophisticated mobile waitlist technology on the market and developing our next generation hospitality solutions for restaurants that are primarily walk-in, but accept reservations."

Including the Quickcue acquisition, OpenTable has spent more than $44 million in 2013 buying up potential competitors in the mobile food application industry, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. OpenTable, which is publicly traded on the NASDAQ, bought Foodspotting for $10.1 million in February, JustChalo in June for $11 million and Rezbook in July for $12 million.

Quickcue was founded in 2011 during Chattanooga's 48-hour launch event, which challenges entrepreneurs to work together to take their idea from concept to company in just two days. The company found traction among a number of Chattanooga-area fast-casual restaurants like The Terminal, which was one of its first customers.

The budding business, which keeps its headquarters on Main Street, first hit it big when it signed a deal to distribute its software to all restaurants in the Chattanooga-based Craftworks Restaurants and Breweries family in Fall 2012.

Quickcue officials could not immediately be reached for comment. The announcement was released after markets had closed for the day. OpenTable shares on Monday closed at $76.42, up 9 cents per share.

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6315.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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