Acquires Group Travel Site I’m In, Transforms It Into Party Vendor Directory

Framingham, MA-based Punchbowl Software, the company behind party planning site, said today that it has acquired the assets of I’m In, a group vacation website formerly owned by Waltham, MA-based GroupGo. Punchbowl’s founder and CEO Matt Douglas says the local search tools created by I’m In have enabled MyPunchbowl to launch a new local vendor portal where party planners can connect with small businesses.

“I had known the guys at I’m In from the local startup scene,” says Douglas. “They were building a group travel and local search product for the trip and travel world, and what impressed me most was their local vendor portal. They were doing a great job, and we kept an eye on them. Over time, the opportunity came to us to acquire the property, and long story short, I decided to pull the trigger. It’s not every day that a startup acquires another startup, but my investors and our board got together and said, ‘You know what, this is something that could really accelerate the company.'”

Punchbowl has acquired I’m In’s software code, designs, trademarks, and domain names, but hasn’t brought in any of its former employees. Douglas isn’t saying how much Punchbowl paid in the deal, but he says Punchbowl didn’t have to raise any new venture funding to make the purchase. The company’s most recent venture round of $2.1 million, supplied by Contour Ventures, Intel Capital, and eCoast Angels, came in September 2008.

Punchbowl earns revenue largely by generating sales leads for party vendors, so the new directory could be a big asset. “I can’t overemphasize how big of a project it is to launch a local vendor portal for 50 states and 30,000 cities—there are over 1 million vendors” in the new portal, says Douglas. “The technology we acquired will give us a huge head start, and we’re excited that we can finally talk about the acquisition and our new portal.”

Don Dodge—the former Microsoft emerging business team director who announced this week that he has accepted a position at Google—is on the board at Punchbowl. We profiled the startup shortly after its launch in October 2007.

GroupGo, meanwhile, was founded in 2005 by entrepreneurs and hotel-industry veterans Brian Harrington and Josh Lesnick and had backing from Annex Ventures. The company was known for helping groups of young adults plan so-called “girlcations” and “mancursions” to locations such as Napa Valley or Las Vegas. profiled the company in 2007.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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