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MOBILE & TELECOMMUNICATIONS | Mobile Software & Services / Travel
mezi.com

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Founded Year

2015

Stage

Acquired | Acquired

Total Raised

$11.8M

Valuation

$0000 

About Mezi

Mezi connects users in real-time with human experts to research, recommend and purchase everything they need. Through a messaging interface, Mezi takes care of arranging flights and hotel stays, buying items for work or personal use, or planning an evening out with friends. The solution runs on Smart Assist, a cloud-based technology platform using artificial intelligence and machine learning to streamline expert workflows and reduce response times. It learns customer preferences over time, enabling experts to tailor each of the three recommendations to the client's unique needs.

Mezi Headquarter Location

Sunnyvale, California,

United States

415-915-7798

Latest Mezi News

The boy who liked to fix things and now he wants to fix corporate travel tech

Jan 5, 2022

The boy who liked to fix things and now he wants to fix corporate travel tech The boy who liked to fix things and now he wants to fix corporate travel tech After a three-decadejourney, Johnny Thorsen believes he’s in right spot at right time to achievelife’s ambition EVEN as a child, Johnny Thorsen remembers his interest in pulling things apart and then trying to put them together again in a new and better way. “That’swhat my mother told me I was like as a boy,” he laughed, when I asked him why,after three decades of working in the corporate travel space, he’s onto anotherstartup, Spotnana , which is promisingto disrupt the sector by creating an open eco-system for corporates to accessmicro services. Johnny Thorsen: “I like to break old ways of doing things if it improves the process significantly, and to try and do things to move the travel industry forward.” “I like tobreak old ways of doing things if it improves the process significantly, and totry and do things to move the travel industry forward,” said Thorsen, who’sbeen made responsible for strategy and partnerships at Spotnana, which came outof a two-year stealth mode with $40m funding and a team that’s made up of thewho’s who of corporate travel. In all theyears I’ve known Thorsen since his days in Concur, then Mezi before it wasacquired by American Express, I’ve never seen him as excited as he is aboutSpotnana and how it is in the right place at the right time to disruptcorporate travel. There’s thepandemic which completely turned the sector on its head and showed corporates anew way of working, meeting and travelling, which means corporates are nowseeking new tools and solutions. There’s the accelerated digitisation on thepart of suppliers which means they are also more open to new ideas andproducts. And there’s the corporate traveller who wants the same freedom,flexibility and assurance of booking business trips as he or she does leisure. And youcould say that his career trajectory has brought him to this startup and thispoint in his life where he sees the opportunity to finally be able to achievewhat he’s been talking about as a travel tech evangelist for the past decade orso – to break down the walls to create an open, accessible and democraticeco-system in which everyone who wants to can help solve different problems incorporate travel, without gatekeepers getting in the way. TheDanish’s passion for travel tech started when, right after he graduated as a softwaredeveloper in 1987, he landed a job building the first PC-based back-officesystem for corporate travel agencies (aka TMCs today) in Northern Europe. Thatexperience opened his eyes to how much manual, duplicate work there was withlittle control on the agency’s part. In 1989, itlanded its first customer in Norway’s largest travel group, Berg Hansen, andThorsen spent his time making trips to Norway the next 18 months, “implementingtravel agencies, one after another”. He later joined Berg Hansen as IT directorin 1991, setting up an IT department from scratch, and that was his firstexposure to corporate travel from the inside. First breakthroughinto startup world with ConTgo His next stint with BTI in London gave himexposure to the global corporate travel scene and gave him the jumpstart into onlinetravel when he joined Silicon Valley based GetThere as the first employeeoutside the US heading up EMEA product development and partnerships from Londonuntil Sabre acquired GetThere. He then joined Cendant (now Travelport) in 2003moving to Sydney in 2004 to lead its expansion into Asia Pacific and be anearly mover in the corporate online revolution in the region. Following the break-up of Cendant in 2006,Thorsen made the decision to launch his own startup in 2007 called conTgo(short for content on the go) together with another Dane – Henrik Conradsen, afterseveral years “in the slow lane” with major travel tech corporations. “I thought to myself, no more large corporatepolicy games, time to control my own destiny and innovate as fast as possiblewithout worrying about legacy revenue streams.” “conTgo started as an itinerary management tool– we sent SMS message based on the itinerary – and I recall when the Icelandicvolcano erupted, we had a pilot project with Microsoft in three countries andwe were the only solution capable of messaging the traveller directly on thephone – and we ended up developing a new duty of care product in 10 days.” From that, it created a global messaging andduty of care platform which was sold to Concur in 2013. Thorsen strayed withConcur until its acquisition by SAP in 2015 and then joined SAP’s mobilesolutions division and helped launch a new cloud-based offering in early 2017. By then, he felt it was time to get back intotravel and that’s when he ran into a startup called Mezi, an AI chatbotpersonal assistant service, whose founders invited Thorsen to join the team. “Itwas game changing technology,” he said. A year later, Mezi was acquired byAmerican Express Card Services and Thorsen joined the Amex Digital Labs team tohelp innovate in card membership services. “It had nothing to do with corporate travel,”he said. “I worked on card member services, crypto, blockchain andsustainability projects for more than two years and gained a deeperunderstanding of the payment landscape.” During his time with Amex Digital Labs Thorsen also expanded his involvementwith other startups. Today he serves as a board member or strategic advisorwith eight startups around the world and has effectively built the TravelTopiacommunity he has been evangelising about in presentations around the world thepast five years. Spotnana “consolidates everything I’ve done inmy career” But it was clear the call of corporate traveltech was strong and when Spotnana came calling, Thorsen was more than ready.Thorsen has been involved with the startup since the summer of 2019, helpingwith fund raising and defining the product vision. “It consolidates everything I’ve done in mycareer and it’s building something really valuable from scratch for the wholeindustry. This is not to compete with anyone but to be a trail blazer, andenable anyone to innovate and build services for the entire industry.” Likening it to the App store, Thorsen said theidea was to develop a single global open platform of cloud-based micro servicesfor corporate clients, TMCs and suppliers to partake of. “We don’t care howcustomers book or when they book, there will be no GDS segment fees, thecustomer decides when they want their booking to be made.” Since it came out of stealth mode, Thorsen saidthe response has been overwhelming. It is targeting Fortune 1000 companies,TMCs (about 3,000 small to medium sized agencies), as well as suppliers such asairlines and hotel companies. Its funding runway of US$40 million will beenough to get the company to phase one where “we will have a scalable workingproduct with enough relevant content to make it viable”. With his personal passion for sustainability,Spotnana will launch a sustainability module in the first quarter of 2022 tohelp corporate travellers travel sustainably. “This is the right product at the right time.The big buyers realise that if they come out of Covid the same way, they wouldhave failed. This is the best time to build a future-proof platform. “For TMCs, staff costs are very expensive andmiddle and back office tech has not changed for the most part. It is nowpossible to reduce costs and improve productivity with new tools. This platformwill allow any TMC to modernise and serve its customers. We want to be theirtech company. “For airlines and hotels, it’s difficult forthem to build on their old stack and many don’t have IT resources – this allowsthem to innovate to serve their customers better.” Of its staff force of 128, almost 100 are in tech. “We are a tech company for travel,” said Thorsen, which brings him back to his roots and how he’s always seen himself – a tech guy who wants to pull things apart and to put them together again for travel in a new and better way. Note: Johnny Thorsen will be speaking at WiT Japan & North Asia, January 14-15. Sign up here . Programme here. Tags:

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Expert Collections containing Mezi

Expert Collections are analyst-curated lists that highlight the companies you need to know in the most important technology spaces.

Mezi is included in 3 Expert Collections, including Payments.

P

Payments

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Companies and startups in this collection enable consumers, businesses, and governments to pay each other - online and at the physical point-of-sale.

A

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F

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US-based companies

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