OPIS Takes It to Street With GasBuddy Acquisition

Fuel-pricing service firm buys motorist-focused low-gas-price locator, mobile-app company

GAITHERSBURG, Md. -- Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), a firm well-known in petroleum and convenience for providing fuel prices and analysis, has acquired a consumer-oriented company more known to motorists for a website that helps them find the lowest gasoline prices in town.

As reported in a Raymond James/CSP Daily News Flash, OPIS, based in Gaithersburg, Md., acquired Brooklyn Park, Minn.-based GasBuddy and its mobile-app service OpenStore for an undisclosed sum, the companies announced on March 1.

The companies would not reveal the deal's price tag.

The combined companies are "complementary," officials said, with the two now able to extend fuel-price insight from wholesale through to the street. "Getting access to wholesale and spot prices will be very helpful to us," said GasBuddy co-founder Jason Toews. "That access will further enhance GasBuddy's ability to alert consumers to retail gasoline and diesel price changes in the marketplace," he told CSP Daily News.

In addition to augmenting the GasBuddy side of the business, the acquisition will help develop its OpenStore offer, which provides retailers with software and mobile applications that target consumers. Toews said a clear growth opportunity was with loyalty and visual couponing.

OPIS officials confirmed the plan. "Expanding the couponing features of this platform will provide discounts to consumers for a host of products and services sold at service stations and convenience stores," said Brian Crotty, CEO of OPIS.

He told CSP Daily News that the acquisition will allow OPIS to broaden its own history of providing software solutions to marketers. "It gets us a wonderful consumer brand in GasBuddy, and with OpenStore, a [solution] that's beneficial to petroleum marketers," Crotty said. "Our software is complementary but different. We serve different needs but the same customer."

Crotty described GasBuddy's price-collection methods as "unbelieveable" and something "all our industry customers can benefit from."

Scott Hartman, a York, Pa.-based retailer and GasBuddy subscriber said the combination is "perfect" and will position both firms well in this quickly developing space.

"The company that can publish the best and most accurate information in this area will win that battle for the hearts and minds of the consuming public," said Hartman, president and CEO of Rutter's Farm Stores.

"In 2006 during my NACS chairman closing speech, I said the in-car store billboard was not too far away, and I think this new combination of talent and resources will move that concept forward even faster," he told CSP Daily News. "As one of their business partners, I look forward to working with them."

Both Toews and GasBuddy co-founder Dustin Coupal are staying on with the company, an important factor in the deal, Crotty said. "One of the best things we got in this is Jason and Dustin and their vision. Hopefully, OPIS can support them with resources to help them better [achieve] that vision," he said.

"Change is always scary," said Tom Robinson, president of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Robinson Oil and its Rotten Robbie c-store chain. "Gas Buddy has been responsive to working with us and improving the product, but I'm hopeful OPIS will take advantage of an excellent platform for them to leverage and build on."

More than 26 million motorists use GasBuddy's mobile app and website to pinpoint the most comprehensive and accurate gasoline prices at stations and c-stores across the United States and Canada, the company said.

OPIS officials said the company will accelerate investment in GasBuddy's OpenStore software, which enables c-stores to reach their customers with targeted value offerings. OpenStore is a multi-channel marketing solution that brings mobile app, website, email, texting and social-media marketing to c-store companies, officials said. Through its marketing solution, retailers can deliver content and digital coupons.

San Francisco-based Horizon Partners served as financial advisor to GasBuddy and OpenStore in this transaction.

OPIS, a subsidiary of UCG, is a leading source for worldwide petroleum pricing and information It publishes daily spot prices for all refined products, more than 30,000 wholesale gasoline and diesel rack prices and more than 110,000 retail fuel prices Through its subsidiary, Axxis Software, OPIS also provides software for petroleum marketers to automate price collection, data storage and repricing of dealer and commercial accounts.

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