Troubled travel startup Zozi gets acquired by Peek

Zozi, the drama-filled travel industry startup whose former CEO recently sued its board, has been acquired by Peek, a rival in the tours and activities business where Zozi also competes. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the two companies will be joining forces, with the assets and team from Zozi heading over to Peek.

The news was reported by Skift, which notes that Peek is basically hiring the Zozi employees and bringing its customers on board, while the Zozi brand and marketplace will be phased out.

This is a nice, soft landing for troubled Zozi, which has been struggling with legal battles following the firing of founder and CEO T.J. Sassani, who sued the board for wrongful termination and a host of other outrageous claims. Meanwhile, Zozi staff told us that Sassani had been largely absent from the company for months (even skipping its holiday party), had difficult relations with vendors and was spending money on ventures that other members of the executive team didn’t believe in and thought could potentially bankrupt the business.

In recent days, Zozi had shifted its focus away from its travel and tours marketplace to Zozi Advance, its B2B platform for bookings and reservations. The changes forced the company to lay off nearly 40 percent of its staff earlier this year.

But Zozi Advance held promise, the company believed. It said that the SaaS product allowed it to grow its revenue nearly 3x in 2016, and was on track to double its revenue this year.

Peek, on the other hand, grew 10x in the last two years, it says. Last summer the company announced a $10 million round of funding, which included Trulia founder Pete Flint joining its board. It has used that funding to invest in its bookings platform, Peek Pro.

Zozi tells us that its Zozi Advance customers will be brought onto Peek Pro’s platform in the months ahead. The merchants on the Zozi marketplace will be moved over to, but Zozi’s brand and consumer offering will later be shuttered.

Not all Zozi employees will be joining Peek, from the sound of things. The company says it’s currently finalizing the team structure, with plans to bring together “key members” of the Peek and Zozi teams to “leverage the best talent in the space.”

“Peek shares our vision around putting operators first, said Elon Boms, Zozi board member and investor, about the deal. “And above all, we care about making sure we provide our operators with the best service and technology to help grow and manage their business. This is a big win for the industry and a big win for our operators.”