Blackhawk Network Buys Gift Card Marketplace Cardpool

Y-combinator-backed gift card marketplace Cardpool has been acquired by Blackhawk Network, a subsidiary of Safeway and one of the largest distributors of gift cards in the world (here’s the official blog post). Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Cardpool, which launched in 2010, buys people’s unwanted gift cards, and sells gift cards at large discounts. They judge the buyback and selling amount by how desirable the cards are. For example, you can sell a BestBuy’s gift card, which is highly desirable, to CardPool for 90 percent of its value. And on CardPool’s site, you can find a Best Buy gift card for 5 percent off its original value. On the other hand, 1-800-Flowers’ gift cards, which are not as popular as Best Buy’s cards, are discounted by 30 percent on the site.

Cardpool has consistently been innovating on its model, and trying to make exchanging and selling gift cards a more seamless experience. For example, the startup gave its members the option to purchase instant redemption gift cards, instead of waiting to receive them in the mail for use. Cardpool also launched the ability to sell a gift card online without having to mail it in via snail mail.

Additionally, the startup debuted Cardpool Gift Cards, which allows users to buy cards on the gift card marketplace. And Cardpool’s mobile app allows customers who have an iPhone or Android phone purchase discounted gift cards that are instantly delivered to their phone so they can use them in store or online immediately.

This is co-founder Anson Tsai’s second acquisition. He developed online music player, which was acquired by Imeem in 2008.

Cardpool has raised angel funding from a number of well known investors including Jeff Fluhr, Ron Conway, Max Levchin, Mitch Kapor, Alfred Lin, Naval Ravikant, Chris Dixon, Chris Sacca, and Paul Buchheit.

For background, Blackhawk Network provides gift card, prepaid, telecom, and financial products. Every week, the company says it reaches more than 200 million consumers spanning 17 countries in a network of leading
grocery, big box, convenience, pharmacy, and specialty stores including Safeway, Kroger, Tesco, Giant
Eagle, Ahold, and will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Blackhawk Network and will be run as an independent business.