A new San Antonio holding company, Dura Holdings, Inc., announced its first acquisition Friday of Moki Mobility Inc., a software startup that developed a software platform for managing single-purpose mobile devices used in multiple industries.
Think of a self-service tablet at the counter in a convenience store allowing customers to directly enter their customer loyalty information or the server who uses a tablet to take your order in a restaurant. For businesses that use fleets of these shared devices (from thousands to tens of thousands), Moki provides a remote management solution that enables administrators to lock-down functionality, install apps, change profiles, perform upgrades, and control these devices remotely.
Moki’s mobile device management platform does all this through a user-friendly administration management console or an API for Android and iOS mobile devices. Moki clients are in retail, healthcare, restaurants, hospitality, education, and entertainment and are located in over 55 countries, including brands like Belly, Motorola, T-Mobile, PayPoint, RAB Lighting, Columbia Sportswear, Marriott, and the Accent Health, according to its website. Founded in 2011, Moki raised $12.4 million in venture capital from Epic Ventures, Pelion Ventures, and Allegis Capital and was acquired for an undisclosed amount.
Paul Salisbury, a former Rackspace Hosting Inc. senior vice president of customer experience and service delivery operations, is CEO of Dura Holdings. This new type of holding company will focus on buying B2B software companies with annual revenue of $1.5 million to $5 million with the intent to operate them for the long term, Salisbury said.
Serial entrepreneur and investor Michael Girdley is chair of Dura’s board. Salisbury and Girdley co-founded the holding company in November 2017 after being introduced to each other by Graham Weston.
Salisbury will become CEO of Moki as part of the deal. Moki’s headquarters will relocate from Lehi, Utah to San Antonio in late summer, bringing the executive team, sales, development and customer success (five employees initially) to the Alamo city, Salisbury said. Product development and shared services will remain in the Salt Lake City area.
“We will locate the Moki team in the Vogue Building [on Navarro Street],” Salisbury said. “We really like being part of the growing downtown tech district, and as Dura continues to buy and hold new software companies, we plan to move the headquarters of all our companies here.”
New Kind of Holdings Company
Dura Holdings is an entirely new type of software-focused company that acquires and operates B2B (business-to-business) software companies with the intent to never sell them. Their office in the Vogue Building places Dura Holdings in the heart of San Antonio’s growing downtown tech district.
Startups San Antonio spoke with Salisbury at length about Dura and its origins, meeting Girdley, and its first acquisition. The interview with Dura’s CEO has been edited for length and clarity.
Startups San Antonio: How did you and Michael Girdley decide to launch Dura Holdings, Inc.?
Paul Salisbury: I had always worked for public corporations as an operator for companies like Proctor and Gamble, Ernst &Young, Dell, and Rackspace. Rackspace was truly a unique organization that operated very much like a start-up even though it was more than $2 billion in revenue when I left in the summer of 2017 to pursue earlier stage entrepreneurial ventures.
I wanted to work with emerging companies and share what I had learned during my years in operations and customer success. Graham Weston introduced me to Michael Girdley who is a Geekdom fund partner and key player in San Antonio’s growing tech community. Michael had developed the sourcing model and was already in the process of launching the holding company when we met. I loved everything about the concept, and the relationship between Michael and I just clicked. We started working together immediately on what would later be called Dura Holdings, Inc.
SSA: Dura Holdings is not the typical private equity or holdings company. How is Dura different and why?
PS: The common model for many private equity firms is to acquire companies, optimize for growth, and then sell them. Our approach is a “buy and hold.” In this way, we preserve the legacy of the customers, partners, and employees. It is a different model that we find is resonating very well with the target companies we approach.
Another key aspect of our model is that we’re looking for companies where the founders and investors are looking to move on and do something else. We want be in control, implement our playbook, and operate the company profitably for the long term.
SSA: What factors contributed to the decision to acquire Moki Mobility?
PS: After talking to many potential candidate companies and conducting preliminary due diligence, Moki emerged as the best opportunity for our first endeavor.
They had a reputation as a market leader in their niche of managing single-purpose mobile devices. Moki makes it easy for customers to manage fleets of these devices effectively with features such as remote management, administrative grouping, and upgraded scheduling.
Moki also has a very strong team that will stay onboard and have been around since its founding. The years of market expertise, product depth, and customer knowledge that the team brings with them is a huge win for us as we go through the transition.
Lastly, we feel there is untapped potential and an opportunity for significantly more growth. We can’t wait to start working with the team to realize that potential.