Duetto CEO on What’s Next After Sale to Private Equity

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David Woolenberg, the CEO of Duetto, gave his first media interview to Skift following his company’s sale announcement on Thursday.

David Woolenberg, the CEO of Duetto, spoke with Skift about what’s next for the company following an acquisition by private equity firm GrowthCurve Capital. 

The interview on Friday afternoon was his first since Thursday’s announcement.

With resources from the new owners, Duetto plans to accelerate its AI strategy, launch new lines of business, and expand into new markets.

Woolenberg spoke about those plans and more.

David Woolenberg CEO DuettoDavid Woolenberg CEO Duetto
David Woolenberg, the CEO of Duetto. Source: Duetto

Duetto provides hotel companies with a software platform meant to streamline revenue management, online marketing, merchandising, and data-based analysis. Hotels can use the products to set room rates that adjust automatically based on market changes. Some of Duetto’s competitors include IDeaS and Cendyn Group’s Guestrev, formerly called Rainmaker. 

The company is headquartered in San Francisco, and its employees have been fully remote since the pademic.

GrowthCurve’s Role at Duetto 

The acquisition provides Duetto with capital to fund tech investment and business expansion, but Duetto is still in charge of running its own company, Woolenberg said. All operations are continuing as before, and all executives and employees are staying with Duetto.

  • “We’re the ones running the company. They are an incremental value for us because they have experts inside of GrowthCurve, and those experts will consult with us.”
  • “Part of the reason that we chose to partner with them is that they’re not interested in operating the company — but they are interested in enhancing the company.”
  • “They’re going to apply resources, and that could be everything from helping us hire specific types of talent, to how we apply investments, to helping validate some of our ideas with their network.”

Upgraded Tech and AI

A major part of Duetto’s plan with the new capital is to accelerate tech and AI investment.

  • “A lot … is going to be additive to the investments we’re already making, and enhancements we’ll make into existing products. And we will be rolling out new incremental products, as well.”
  • “Part of [GrowthCurve’s] thesis is to accelerate our use of AI. And so we have a number of ideas that we’re considering. We have some that are in flight that we haven’t announced yet.”
  • “Some of it will go to improve our user experience and make the jobs of revenue managers more efficient and easy.”

Adding New Lines of Business

Duetto has been focused on revenue management for hotels, but it expanded to meetings and events with the acquisition of MiceRate in February.

  • “I think foundationally, we’re a revenue management system. We serve hotels, so any product extensions will be leveraging the strength we have in that part of the hospitality tech stack.”
  • “You can see from an acquisition we did earlier this year … that that was very cohesive with our core strategy.”
  • “We’ll always look for creative ways to extend the core in terms of new lines of business, meaning things outside of hotels. At this point, I’m not at liberty to disclose what we might do in the future, but I think we’re keeping an open mind.”  

Expanding Geographically 

Duetto says its tech is used by more than 6,000 hotel and casino resort properties in more than 60 countries. The company increased reports of that number in its marketing materials from 4,000 shortly after its February acquisition of MiceRate.

  • “We’ll continue to make investments to have people in new regions.”
  • “We don’t have goals around numbers of countries that we operate in.”
  • “Based on what I’m seeing in the business, I would imagine that that will continue to grow over time. There’s a lot of opportunity. There’s a lot of hotels in the world.”

More Acquisitions 

Duetto’s MiceRate acquisition was its first.

  • “M&A is an important part of the story. It will continue to be an important part of the story. But it’s not a general strategy. It will be a very specific strategy.”
  • “We’ll be very selective about acquiring companies. If the opportunities are right, we will look at it.”

Undisclosed Information 

There were several questions about the deal and the company that Woolenberg declined to answer.

  • The deal price
  • How long the company has been for sale and what the sale process looked like
  • The previous ownership structure of the company
  • The number of employees at Duetto 
  • What the company is doing anything, if anything, with generative AI

Previous Ownership Structure

GrowthCurve purchased Duetto from Warburg Pincus affiliates and other shareholders, according to the press release. Woolenberg declined to say how much of the company was owned by Warburg, or who its other shareholders were.

Duetto had raised a total of more than $141 million in venture capital prior to the acquisition.

The most recent fundraise was an $80 million series D round in 2018 led by Warburg Pincus.

“Pre-yesterday, we had multiple investors in the company, both in the venture capital world as well as private equity world, which is primarily Warburg,” Woolenberg said.

Other firms that have invested over the years include: Icon Ventures, Spectrum 28, Accel Partners, Battery Ventures, Altimeter Capital, and Quest Hospitality Ventures.

Individual investors have included: Leland Pillsbury of Thayer Ventures, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Brad Gerstner of Altimeter, former Expedia CEO Rich Barton, and former Hotel Tonight CEO Sam Shank.

Duetto’s History 

Duetto started in 2012, and all of the founders have since left their executive roles. Three co-founders left in 2019 and early 2020.

Patrick Bosworth was CEO until 2019 and is now co-founder and managing partner of Cherish Ventures, according to his LinkedIn page. 

Marco Benvenuti left in June 2019 and is now the technical co-founder of Juicer, a restaurant revenue management startup that recently raised $5.3 million, and co-owner of the Las Vegas Thunderbirds Hockey Club. 

Craig Weissman is now chief architect of Okta, a digital identity software provider that went public in 2017.

Woolenberg joined the company as chief revenue officer in 2018 and took his current role in 2020.

Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.

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