Conductor- Big Money for Search Specialists: An IPO in the Long Term?October 31, 2012
by Karsten Strauss
Search engine optimization (SEO) company, Conductor, just netted $20 million in funding. The company claims to have enjoyed massive year-over-year revenue growth and if the company can convert the recent influx of cash into growth, this could be a company to watch closely.
Conductor – named the 24th best small & medium workplaces, by Great Place to Work – operates in a field wherein success can pay huge dividends for clients. High visibility among search engine results can mean the difference between profitability and closing up shop for a lot of business that rely on ecommerce or online relevance.
The company’s latest capital raise (it’s third) was led by Swedish firm, Investor Growth Capital, with additional participation from existing investors, FirstMark Capital and Matrix Partners. “Showing up in search engine results is more important than ever before—with Google making changes every day, it’s getting harder for companies to stay at the top of the search results,” said CEO Seth Besmertnik. When I asked him where he sees Conductor in five years, he said: “We want to be a global company with operations in many of the major markets.” At that point, Conductor would have over 1,000 employees, hundreds of customers and be aggressively looking for acquisitions. You can’t blame him for shooting for the moon.
IPO, In the Long Run
The New York City-based company’s aim is to trade on public markets, though there is no set timeline for going public, Besmertnik said. “We’ve spent about four years building this product and we launched it two years ago,” he explained. “Right now it’s just about execution.”
Revenue? The company is generating in the “low, double digit millions,” according to Conductor’s expected end-of-year figures, and Besmertnik said the company’s goal is to double its intake by the end of 2013. “We don’t just want to, I think we have a very credible path to that,” he said. Growth could come on the back of new markets, on top of recurring revenue from its 225 existing customers, including Best Buy, Staples, Callaway, FedEx, GE and Siemens.
Conductor is feeling no pressure from investors for a quick exit, as Investor Growth Capital and its other backers are in the game for the long term, Besmertnik said.
Growth! Growth! Growth!
Conductor intends to use its latest shot in the arm for developing its products by growing its engineering team. Besmertnik said the company is interested in hiring engineers with experience working with large data sets, creating simple “elegant” solutions from them. Additionally, Conductor is also going to invest in opening its products up to new international markets.
Right now, the company has about 85 employees, 40 of whom have joined the firm this year. An additional 50 will likely come on board by the end of next year.
Nowadays, the SEO space is quite open, Besmertnik said. Though many players are on the field, few have the massive dominance and barriers to entry needed to keep competition at bay. Conductor competes directly with Covario, the Germany-based Searchmetrics and seoClarity. The company seeks to set itself apart through offering better customer service and assistance, products in every major language and market, globally.
The SEO space is large and varied, with firms specializing in certain areas of search and in particular industries. (See a list of some top SEO companies compiled this year here).