Thumbtack Raises $4.5 Million
Thumbtack, which has set itself to compete against Angie’s List and ServiceMagic in the SMB leads space, has raised $4.5 million from Javelin Venture Partners, with MHS Capital and Tim Draper participating.
The eight-person San Francisco company, founded in 2009, claims nearly a quarter-million active merchants — up from 150,000 in July — and “hundreds of thousands” of visits. Founder Marco Zappacosta tells us that the company continues to scale well on “both sides of the marketplace” — merchants and consumers. He says the company will use the funds to hire 12 people as soon as possible and focus on building the user experience. “The money is all about investing in the experience and really develop a marketplace solution,” he says.
Zappacosta notes that the company provides standard features such as quotes and finding the right people, but “there is a lot more we can do.” For instance, Zappacosta hopes to add payment and invoicing capabilities throughout the site, as well as scheduling.
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A big congratulations to Marco and the Thumbtack team! Its fantastic to see the services marketplace space taking hold in the US.
Given their public facing results, I’m surprised that Thumbtack hadn’t actually raised a round this size earlier. According to Alexa.com, Thumbtack’s traffic is well ahead of Redbeacon.com (10-20 times more), and that Redbeacon.com had raised significantly more capital in the past ($7.4m raised in an article dated August 2010). So if the Thumbtack team have been truly bootstrapping to this stage then that is a very impressive result.
It does seem that Marco’s team may have shrunk over the last year though. In a previous article it said he had 11 staff in the US and 120 staff in the Philipines. Now its saying he has a team of just 8 staff. Have they been cutting costs and staff as they seek to raise capital? Or has this been natural attrition.
Once again congrats to Marco and his team. My recommendation would be to “hire slow and fire fast”. Don’t rush out and hire any 12 people, wait the year or two it takes to find the right 12 people.
why any rational venture firm would waste money on an IYP-light site is beyond me. As a past IYP vet I see no new or useful functionality to Thumbtack. We list all our local clients there because it’s free – that’s the only reason they’re successfully scaling merchants. With many listings on there – for over 6 months – not a single lead has been generated by TT. Not very convincing.
The social elements of services are well covered by merchantcircle and the TT will not end up competing with angieslist or yelp in terms of reviews. If they’re heading to be a paid lead aggregator like Servicemagic or Reply (now owner of merchantcircle), maybe a potential competitor – more likely the smaller Qualitysmith or Quinstreet – but from my perspective this site is probably a no starter.
Good luck though.
Past IYP I think you have your blinkers on.
Services Marketplaces are rapidly establishing themselves as a fundamental advertising platform for local service providers.
It seems that you’re advocating that small businesses get on the SEO / Social bandwagon, which on its own you must admit is a very risky proposition. Keeping up with Google as they rapidly change their algorithms (hint Panda) is a sure way to chew up and spit out clients. You only have to have a look at the churn rates of SEO/SEM resellers to see that there is a real problem there. The recent demise of Webvisible is a great example of that exact issue.
Services Marketplaces, however, take a much more holistic approach towards advertising and lead generation. Rather than purely focusing on one channel (SEO, SEM, Directory Listings, etc), they look to provide value to local businesses through all channels (Social, SEO, SEM, Directories, Email Marketing, Community Engagement, Partnerships, iPhone and Android Apps, Affiliates, Radio, Television, and even the local service providers themselves). This is in turn creating true value for local service providers by creating the flexibility and simplicity for them to access new work at a rate that is fair and scalable.
As a result, Services Marketplaces around the world are flourishing. The last year alone has not only seen Thumbtack raise $4.5m, but also RedBeacon raise over $7m, Sensis buy Quotify for $6m, Pages Jaune buy Kel Travo, Zaarly enter the market with the help of Meg Whitman (formerly of eBay), Task Rabbit as well. Similarly, our marketplace (Service Central) here in Australia is flourishing and seeing loyal local service providers renewing for their 5th and 6th years with us.
I would sincerely suggest that you take off your blinkers and start taking the reality of the growth of Services Marketplaces extremely seriously.