Tippr Grabs Sales & Tech Talent in DealPop Acquisition, Continuing Daily Deals Dogfight for Third Place

[Updated at 11:40 am with Groupon/Expedia news] When was the last time a contest for third place was so action-packed? Riding the skyrocketing valuations of online coupon dealers Groupon and Living Social, startups like Seattle’s Tippr and New York-based BuyWithMe have been engaging in some hand-to-hand combat for growth.

Today, Tippr makes another move with its acquisition of Seattle neighbor DealPop, a daily deals offering from online directory company WhitePages.com. Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, but it looks like some DealPop folks will be working for Tippr head honcho Martin Tobias—the company’s press release says that “Tippr gains an experienced sales force with national reach and a technical team with deep expertise.”

Tippr has consumer deals sites of its own, and says DealPop will continue offering discounts to its subscribers. But Tippr has been more heavily emphasizing its white-label service, which provides the technology to run daily deals programs for other sites.

Tobias has described this an “arms dealer” approach, aiming for website publishers rather than cutting deals directly with merchants, as Groupon does. Today’s DealPop announcement, in fact, said the acquisition confirms Tippr’s spot as “the leading white label daily deal platform.” Tobias also says that more acquisitions are ahead for Tippr.

Tippr also has made a big deal of its patent portfolio, acquired out of the old Paul Allen-backed company Mercata—Tobias has called those patents “the pocket aces of IP” in group buying. And he’s played those cards: They were a big factor in last year’s acquisition of Austin, TX-based FanForce, and the basis of a federal patent lawsuit against BuyWithMe and New Jersey-based DealOn earlier this year.

[Update] Illustrating its dominating stature in this sector, Groupon has its own Seattle-area news today: It’s partnering with Bellevue, WA-based Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE) to offer special discounts on travel packages. That word comes from Tricia Duryee at AllThingsD, whose D conference is the platform for today’s Groupon-Expedia announcement.

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