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Startup software development and data services firm ViaVerity Inc. agreed to acquire the assets of TravelMaster. The deal is expected to close in the next 30 days, according to ViaVerity Inc. president Joshua Marrow, who declined to reveal terms.
A software developer and investor, Marrow said he teamed with venture capitalist Ben Tanen and silent investors to form ViaVerity, Latin for the road to truth. "Our intent is not to just purchase the assets, but to run and grow the company. That's very important. We really believe in the product and want to deliver it in a more comprehensive way and make it an industry standard," Marrow told The Beat. The New York-based company plans to "implement and expand" on TravelMaster's existing base and perhaps add additional services, but for now has no plans to expand further into other areas of travel, Marrow said.
TravelMaster was founded by Victoria Wofford, who last May pleaded guilty to charges that she fraudulently billed more than $17 million on two American Express business travel accounts of a client and used the funds to develop the TravelMaster software, buy an apartment and invest in a restaurant chain. Sentencing in the case has been delayed repeatedly; the next court hearing is slated for Jan. 24. The Manhattan District Attorney's office said the first delay was due to a request from Wofford for more time to make restitution. The prosecutor's office has since declined to state why sentencing was delayed from July to September, November and now January.
Since the charges were filed, TravelMaster chief operating officer Joe Monaghan has been trying to sell the company and "keep employees, client and prospects in the loop," he said. To distance TravelMaster from Wofford's other company, Tri-Pen Management, Monaghan ended the consulting firm's use of TravelMaster technology, but retained corporate customers and continued to service them.
Under the new owners, TravelMaster would continue to focus sales efforts on "corporations large enough to require managed travel and data services," Marrow said. Plans to reach travel management companies and third parties would be determined in a strategic plan over the next 30 to 60 days, Monaghan said.
According to Marrow, "We think the product is not only fantastic, but that it fills a need in the industry. It's robust--a very progressive step for an industry that otherwise doesn't have anything like this."
Once the deal closes, Marrow said "other investors will present themselves." The management team "has extensive depth in software development, implementation, business acquisition and growth. We identified the TravelMaster asset as a very good acquisition so we could position ourselves in the travel industry." For travel expertise, Marrow said, ViaVerity plans to bring over from TravelMaster five to eight key executives, including Monaghan.
Monaghan said it would likely take several months to "port the technology to a new environment" and bring out the latest release. "But we're all excited," he said. "This is a good thing and those who started ViaVerity have a good plan."
Monaghan said he was attracted to the new owners as they "have a great track record in technology. They obviously don't have a lot of travel management experience. But where they have touched, they have touched extremely well. They're very well connected and have a lot of capital behind them, and those were my pre-requisites."
This article originally was published by The Beat.
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