Angie's List

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Angie's List, Inc.
TypePublic
Traded asNASDAQANGI
Founded1995
HeadquartersIndianapolis, Indiana
Founder(s)William S. Oesterle, Angie Hicks
Key peopleJohn W. Biddinger, Chairman
William S. Oesterle, CEO
Angie Hicks, CMO
IndustryWebsite
Products1. Advertising (70% of revenue) 2. Membership access to crowd sourced review of local businesses (30% of revenue)
RevenueIncrease US$ 245.642 million (2013)[1]
Operating incomeIncrease US$ -31.081 million (2013)[1]
Net incomeIncrease US$ -32.989 million (2013)[1]
Employees1,637 (Dec 2013)[1]
Websitewww.angieslist.com
[2][3][4]
 
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Angie's List, Inc.
TypePublic
Traded asNASDAQANGI
Founded1995
HeadquartersIndianapolis, Indiana
Founder(s)William S. Oesterle, Angie Hicks
Key peopleJohn W. Biddinger, Chairman
William S. Oesterle, CEO
Angie Hicks, CMO
IndustryWebsite
Products1. Advertising (70% of revenue) 2. Membership access to crowd sourced review of local businesses (30% of revenue)
RevenueIncrease US$ 245.642 million (2013)[1]
Operating incomeIncrease US$ -31.081 million (2013)[1]
Net incomeIncrease US$ -32.989 million (2013)[1]
Employees1,637 (Dec 2013)[1]
Websitewww.angieslist.com
[2][3][4]

Angie's List is a US-based, advertising supported website containing crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses.

According to the October 2013 Quarterly Report [5] Angie's list currently has 78,867 paid members with membership, with revenue of $117 million and advertising revenue of 948.4 million, and a quarterly net loss of $1 million.

History[edit]

Formerly headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Angie's List was co-founded by William S. Oesterle and Angie Hicks in 1995. It was inspired by Hicks' search for a reliable contractor in suburban Columbus on behalf of Oesterle, a venture capitalist and her former supervisor. She relocated to Columbus to join him in creating Angie's List, which started as a call-in service and publication for reviews about home and lawn care. Hicks went door-to-door, signing up members and collecting ratings on local contractors. For a year, it was called "Columbus Neighbors", the name and idea being patterned after the Indianapolis, Indiana-based community publication, Unified Neighbors.[6] After solely recruiting more than 1,000 members in Columbus within one year, Hicks turned to Oesterle to raise money from investors in order to develop the business at a steady pace.[7]

In 1996, Angie's List purchased Unified Neighbors from creator Bill Corbin and relocated its headquarters to Indianapolis. By 1999, the database of local services and reviews was moved to the internet. During the ensuing years, their customer base and business relationships grew throughout North America, while also expanding to include additional service industries such as health care and auto care.[8]

In August of 2013, Angie's List acquired online start-up SmartHabitat Inc. ("BrightNest"), calling the move a strategic next step in its drive to transform local service.[9]

Since 2010, Angie's List has expanded in the United States, and the current number of members is over 70,000. Yet despite this growth in membership, Angie's List has never had a profitable year.[10]

Ratings methodology[edit]

Angie's List grades companies using a report-card-style scale, which ranges from A to F; these ratings are based on the following criteria: price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality and professionalism.[3] Each company has its own page, which is composed of a description of its business along with the customer reviews. The aggregate grade is drawn from the combined reviews and grades given to the businesses from the consumers.

Criticism[edit]

Angie's List has been criticized for the fundamental contradiction between its claimed philosophy ("Companies can't pay to be on Angie's List") and the conflict of interest caused by reliance on advertising revenue for 70% of cash flow. [11] Answering a complaint from a user, David Segal found that when subscribers post a negative review of a company to Angie's List, a staff member discusses it with them in an attempt to rectify the situation. If the company is one that advertises with Angie's List, the negative review will be removed and then the customer must give an A or B grade. The company's effort to keep advertisers happy reveals their conflict of interest.[12]

The October 2013 issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser reported:

"We think that the ability of A- and B-rated companies to buy their way to the top of the default search results skews the results. Cheryl Reed, a spokeswoman for the company, disagrees. 'We don’t believe that,' she says. But Angie’s List marketing materials intended for businesses say that companies that advertise get 'an advantage of increased exposure' that 'can propel you ahead of your competition.' They get 12 times more profile views than companies that don’t buy ads. Angie’s List encourages businesses to solicit reviews by giving customers free, postage-paid forms, stickers on thank you notes, and Web links embedded in e-mail invoices. But experts who study survey techniques say that can create a bias for positive reviews. Angie’s List misleads consumers by prominently promising that 'businesses don’t pay' and that it’s a consumer-driven service supported by membership fees. But almost 70 percent of the company’s revenues come from advertising purchased by the service providers being rated. Angie’s List tells consumers that it provides 'reviews you can trust,' and takes steps to detect and remove fraudulent positive and negative reviews. But company investment disclosures say that 'we cannot guarantee the accuracy of our reviews.' ” [13]

Competition is a major concern. Competitors such as Yelp[14] offer similar reviews, with a much larger database, for free, causing concern for the future of ANGI's paid membership model. Angie's List reviews for home services are liable to be hundreds of miles away, and not local as advertised.[15]

Investors worry that the company has been in business for more than 18 years, yet never has shown an annual profit, and that valuations of the company are unrealistic based on the actual revenue the company produces.[16]

There have also been complaints that the stock has been excessively diluted by gifts of stock to business insiders, so that if the company ever did show a profit, little if any would accrue to outside investors/ stockholders.[citation needed]

Litigation[edit]

According to The Washington Post, in March 2007 SCS Contracting Group sued Angie's List and two members for libel because of negative reviews of the company. One of the sued members remarked, "if [contractors are] able to sue, then the value of Angie's List depreciates.... People aren't going to be willing to submit reviews if they could be threatened with a lawsuit."[17] On 7 October 2008, the plaintiffs dismissed the complaint against the two members. Summary judgment was later granted in favor of all defendants.[18]

Financial information[edit]

Angie's List estimated that its annual revenue in 2008 was $58 million, generated primarily through advertising in its newsletter and membership fees.[19] However, in 2012, 69% of Angie’s List's revenue came from advertisers. [20]

Membership fees are based on volume of service providers at a given location. For example, Angie's List reported the following annual membership fees as of 4 December 2009:

In 2010, Angie's List raised a total of $25 million in capital from investors. In September 2010, Wasatch Funds and Battery Ventures invested $22 million.[21] In November 2010, Saints Capital led an additional funding of $2.5 million.[22]

On November 17, 2011, Angie's List began trading on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol ANGI. It priced 8.8M shares at $13 and opened for trading at $18, a 33% premium.[23]

However, shares have dropped below $12 as of June 24, 2014. [24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d ANGIE’S LIST, INC. Form 10-K, Securities and Exchange Commission, February 28, 2014
  2. ^ "accessIndiana". Indiana Secretary of State. Retrieved 2006-11-07. 
  3. ^ a b Schein, Amy. "Brownstone Publishing, LLC". Hoovers.com. Hoovers. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  4. ^ Duros, Sally (2007-01-05). "Mining gold from Chicagoans' word of mouth". Chicago Sun Times. Archived from the original on 9 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  5. ^ http://investor.angieslist.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=799542
  6. ^ The Story with Dick Gordon
  7. ^ Evans, Teri (2010-10-06). "No Free Stuff Here: At Angie's List, Members Pay". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2011-08-02. 
  8. ^ "Inner City 100.". CNN Money. 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2011-07-29. 
  9. ^ "Angie's List Acquires Denver Company". Inside Indiana Business. 2013-08-05. 
  10. ^ "Ain't It Time To Say Goodbye To Angie's List?". Forbes. 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2014-04-21. 
  11. ^ David, Traynor (2013-09-10). "Ain't it Time to Say Goodbye to Angie's List". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
  12. ^ David Segal, "A Complaint Registered, Then Expunged," New York Times (Dec. 21, 2013), p. BU3.
  13. ^ http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/09/online-ratings-services/index.htma
  14. ^ http://www.yelp.com Yelp Website
  15. ^ Berr, Jonathan (2013-10-07). "Angie's List Doesnt Rate Well Shareholders". Investopedia. Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
  16. ^ http://seekingalpha.com/article/1776412-angies-list-worth-9-based-on-expected-lifetime-member-value-in-2015
  17. ^ Kelly, John (March 13, 2007). "Homeowner's Web Gripe Draws Contractor Lawsuit". Washington Post. 
  18. ^ "Stephen C. Sieber v. Brownstone Publishing Co.". October 2010. 
  19. ^ Murphy, Tom (2007-01-20). "Angie's to-do list: doctors; Service ratings firm explores expansion into health care". Indiana Business Journal. Retrieved 2007-02-01. 
  20. ^ http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2013/09/10/aint-it-time-to-say-goodbye-to-angies-list/
  21. ^ Merino, Faith (21 September 2010). "Angie's List strikes big with $22M". VatorNews. 
  22. ^ Merino, Faith (11 November 2010). "Angie's List raises $2.5M adding to $22.5M". VatorNews. 
  23. ^ "Angie's List gains 25% in IPO". CNN. 2011-11-17. 
  24. ^ Public Record, NASDAQ

External links[edit]