A New Chapter: SumUp to Acquire Fivestars

Eleven years ago, my co-founder Matt Doka and I wanted to do more than make slides for a living. We wanted to impact communities and had an idea to level the playing field for small businesses in America. 

While working together at McKinsey, we built loyalty and customer engagement strategies for Fortune 500 brands. We saw firsthand the growth and profits these programs drove. 

But what about small businesses? The businesses who employ nearly half of the private workforce? Businesses who don’t have $100M or more in IT budgets annually to throw around but are the lifeblood of communities worldwide. These folks care much more deeply about their customers than the average floor manager in a massive Fortune 500. Why? Because they come from the community, live in the community, and rely on customers coming into that store. 

So we founded Fivestars to build the same platform that these exclusive Fortune 500s had and made it available to every local business out there.  

Since then, we’ve experienced incredible successes and unforeseen challenges, like the massive impact Covid was for us, our merchants and their communities. Despite that, we’ve managed to grow our business from a small startup out of our garage into the leading marketing and payments platform for local businesses. We’ve created the largest local commerce network in the U.S., numbering more than 70 million users and over 12,000+ incredible merchant partners. 

Now, eleven years after founding Fivestars, we could not be more proud to announce that SumUp is acquiring Fivestars for $317 million. SumUp is Europe’s largest payment processor for small businesses with a network of over 3 million merchants across 34 markets. Together, we’ll be able to offer a much broader product portfolio to the merchants we both care so deeply about.  

Matt and I have gotten to this day only because of the incredible people who’ve stuck with us throughout the journey. So I’m most excited to share that SumUp and Fivestars share a nearly identical mission. While we say, “Helping businesses and communities thrive,” SumUp lives for “Empowering small merchants all over the world.” Where we have a roadmap to “turn transactions into relationships,” they have one to “turn transactions into interactions.” The alignment is uncanny.

Internally, our team is excited to work closely with the SumUp team. We’ve admired their business and the success they’ve had helping power payments and tools for merchants worldwide. More importantly, we’re huge fans of the company culture they’ve created around their values of “We Care,” “Team First,” and “Founder’s Mentality.” These values are so similar to the ones that carried our team through the last eleven years: “Shared Humility, Authentic Relationships, Warrior Spirit, and Joy Every Day.”  

We’re grateful to our incredible investor-partners, who have not only granted us the resources we need to grow, but have acted as sounding boards, wise counselors, and incisive yet always supportive partners from day zero. This includes the team at YCombinator, DCM Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures, Menlo Ventures, HarbourVest Partners, and Salt Partners. All of these firms believed in us, our technology, and our mission, and we’re glad to share this success with them. 

And most importantly, I want to thank each and every merchant who has worked with us over the past decade — you are our inspiration, you are the main reason we kept going during Covid, you are the hardest workers in the entire Fivestars ecosystem, and you are and will continue to be the lifeblood of our communities in America and worldwide. Thank you for all you do 

To learn more about the details of the merger and plans for the future of Fivestars, please read our press release.



Co-Founder & CEO of Fivestars

Published: October 13, 2021