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In 2004, Twin Cities entrepreneur Mike Wethington used $9 million from the sale of his first tech business to launch Outsell, a software company that provides auto retailers and manufacturers with behavior data on potential customers. It was a relatively revolutionary idea at the time: using the power of the internet to support car sales.

Twenty years later, Outsell has been acquired by a New York-based artificial intelligence company serving auto retailers in a deal valued at $100 million.

Impel, which uses a generative AI platform similar to ChatGPT to interact with car buyers, said the acquisition creates a combined company serving over 8,000 dealers in 51 countries.

"As the leader in automotive AI, Impel has brought tremendous innovation to the industry and the transformation of retail now taking place," Wethington said in a statement. "I'm proud of what our team has accomplished, and we look forward to joining with Impel to redefine what's possible."

Wethington will join Impel's board. The cash deal includes equity in Impel, which is headquartered in Syracuse.

Outsell employs 170 people, with 100 based in Minneapolis. Layoffs are not anticipated, company leaders said.

Wethington grew Outsell's revenue to $6 million in its first three years of business. By 2016, Outsell's revenue was approaching $25 million.

The company's software also automates the customer engagement process for dealers across social media, SMS text, email and direct mail.

"Outsell's unique ability to help automotive manufacturers and retailers listen, predict, and communicate with customers in a fully automated way has earned them a reputation in the industry that is second to none," Impel Chief Executive Devin Daly said in a statement. "This acquisition enables us to provide a unified AI platform that connects every channel and touchpoint across the automotive retailing ecosystem."