LiveDeal, which has been aggressively pushing a joint classified and directory platform since its merger with YP.com last year, is moving in new directions with the arrival of new president and CEO Mike Edelhart. He replaced former YP.com head Dan Coury at the end of May.
Edelhart, a longtime Silicon Valley publishing figure, previously served as CEO of Inman News and Zinio Systems. Company chair and founder Rajesh Navar stays in place.
Edelhart inherits a challenging situation for the publicly owned company. Investor TorStar, for instance, felt compelled to write off much of its $3 million investment. But he expresses confidence that LiveDeal is well positioned to leverage its assets in the “blue water” local advertising marketplace, including a company-owned call center in the Philippines and self-owned classified platform. The company has 100 employees at its U.S. offices in Las Vegas and Santa Clara, and another 100 at the call center.
LiveDeal currently takes in an average of $300 annually from 70,000 customers, with most of the revenues coming from directory and classifieds. “I don’t see a lot of growth with that,” although existing customers will continue to be fully supported, says Edelhart. The company’s future, however, lies in several new initiatives that are seeing averages pumped up to $3,000 a year. Top features include Web site building, click packages and domain registrations.
The company’s biggest hopes are to use the call center and services to mine a whole new breed of customers for the high-end services. “We’re analyzing hundreds of verticals to target,” says Edelhart, noting that LiveDeal has gotten good traction, for instance, on limo drivers in second-tier cities. Other promising categories include private investigators, middle-tier lawn care (below landscapers), fertility clinics, weight reduction centers and specialized lawyers.
“Really, we’re talking about high-end pro specialties,” Edelhart says. “We feel like we can help where people are in and out of the office a lot. It is a huge marketplace.”