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American Express Acquires Tock in Strategic $400 Million Deal

American Express has acquired Tock, a Chicago-based restaurant reservation and event management company, from Squarespace for $400 million in an all-cash transaction. This strategic acquisition highlights American Express’s continued expansion into dining-related services, following its 2019 acquisition of Resy, another key player in the reservation system market.

The acquisition is a calculated move by American Express to capitalize on its customers’ growing penchant for dining out. According to Howard Grosfield, President of U.S. Consumer Services at American Express, dining has become a significant spending category for the company’s cardholders, reaching a record $100 billion in transactions in 2023. “The passion and interest in dining and dining-related experiences just continues to grow,” Grosfield noted.

Tock, founded in 2014 by Nick Kokonas, a former derivatives trader and co-owner of the renowned Alinea restaurant in Chicago, has carved out a niche by offering prepaid reservations and deposits, particularly appealing to high-end, tasting-menu restaurants. The platform charges a flat monthly fee to its clients, which include restaurants, bars, and wineries. It provides comprehensive services such as deposit management, dining room traffic control, and event promotion. Users can also download the Tock app to explore dining options and make reservations.

American Express aims to enhance its value proposition to card members by integrating Tock into its ecosystem, offering exclusive access to sought-after dining experiences. For instance, Resy is currently providing American Express cardholders with priority access to Misipasta, a pop-up restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Missy Robinson on Governors Island, New York City. This acquisition will further extend such privileges to a broader network of dining experiences through Tock.

Since its acquisition by Squarespace in 2021, Tock has expanded its client base to around 7,000 restaurants, wineries, and other venues. In contrast, Resy boasts a network of approximately 20,000 eateries worldwide. The integration of Tock will enable American Express to offer even greater value to its dining partners by connecting them to a larger pool of potential diners. “This is an important value-add to our restaurant partners,” stated Matt Tucker, head of Tock.

Despite the significant presence of OpenTable in the dining reservation industry, which lists over 55,000 venues on its platform, American Express’s strategic acquisitions of Resy and Tock position it as a formidable competitor in the market.

In addition to acquiring Tock, American Express also announced the acquisition of Rooam, a platform facilitating contactless payments in bars, restaurants, stadiums, and other venues. The financial details of the Rooam acquisition were not disclosed, but this move further underscores American Express’s commitment to enhancing its suite of services in the hospitality and dining sectors.

With these acquisitions, American Express is well-positioned to offer a seamless and enriched dining experience to its cardholders, reinforcing its role as a leader in the premium service market.