Who Is Next In Local Listings Management?
— Adam Dorfman (@phixed) February 28, 2018
While I did not expect Reputation.com to be the suitor, it is not surprising to see it embrace SIMPartners. Reputation.com has grown from a service that took care of those “caught with a hooker” search results for you to something that is starting to look like a full-service digital marketing solution. Here’s its current Services menu (nice touch btw adding “Directory Management” today):
My best guess is some combination of SIM’s team and its Velocity system (a kind of store finder in a box + listings management solution) was the big appeal. We occasionally run across Reputation.com in the market, and often have found its ability to market its services outpaces its ability to deliver. So getting a team experienced at delivering and another SKU designed to lock in multi-location customers couldn’t hurt.
Perhaps SIM’s focus on Healthcare also had some allure. Yext has also made Healthcare a big priority. My understanding is various regulations for Healthcare providers about how they have to market themselves make this a particularly juicy opportunity.
And for SIM, competing against better-funded SAAS competitors and pesky agencies from all sides was probably tough. Hopefully this was a financial win for SIM employees and founders, but regardless, both companies are likely better off with each other.
Whenever Local Search execs get together, inevitably the conversation turns to industry consolidation. As a group we have been predicting the big Local Search roll-up for years, and it never seems to really happen. But perhaps it is already well under-way and we just haven’t been paying that much attention. Over the past year:
- Yext IPO’d with a market cap of +$1B
- SweetIQ was acquired by Gannett/ReachLocal
- Dex Media acquired YellowPages.com
- EverCommerce acquired CustomerLobby & Market Hardware
- HomeAdvisor acquired Homestars
- UpCurve acquired Closely
- Brandify acquired Streetfight
And I am sure there were many more. Not all of these were in the local listings management space, but any company looking to service multi-location brands and/or SMBs at scale will need some kind of listings solution. And for those companies looking to go public, the market seems to value the ability to manage millions of locations (see Yext’s current market cap).
On the one hand you can say Yext has been eating everyone’s lunch. It is far and away the biggest gorilla in the space and has aggressively used its VC $ to buy market share through both marketing and technological innovation. So surely raising another $100 million or two to continue on that path is going to mean even less lunch for everyone else. But the fact is that the Local space is so enormous that there is more than enough chow to go around for everyone. This is the bull case for Yext, and while it has a big lead, it can’t possibly gobble up the world or even a small percentage of the hundreds of millions of global business locations any time soon. And in fact, companies like Brandify, Location3, SweetIQ and yes, even Moz, should be rooting for Yext’s IPO to be a smashing success as it would validate their business models, increase the appetite for more investment, and (I can hear those hands rubbing and lips smacking) create currency for consolidation.
If I were the betting kind, would put my money on one or more of these companies getting acquired before the end of the year, with an emphasis on those that have either hit a YUGE number of locations under management or have blown through their VC $ and need a way out:
– Moz (yes Moz!)