ReachLocal, which went public just a month ago, is introducing a new site called Bizzy, which local businesses can use to communicate with their customers. On the site — which launched today in New York, San Francisco and Dallas — businesses create profiles, where they can post special offers and events. Visitors who create accounts can see a stream of updates and offers from businesses they frequent and can easily send messages to them. It’s free, although ReachLocal CEO Zorik Gordon tells us that if it catches on it will be “inherently monetizable.”
For ReachLocal, Bizzy is a move beyond the company’s roots helping local businesses run search engine and display advertising campaigns. Gordon says the company ultimately hopes to move into additional areas as well, with the goal of helping small businesses build online “presences” for themselves and also retain customers. The company had already begun to move into new markets with its February purchase of SMB Live, which lets businesses create online profiles which they can then move over to local directory and social media sites. Gordon says ReachLocal believes that the “whole marketing function” for small businesses will eventually move online and it wants to expand to support “all aspects” of it.
During our conversation, I asked Gordon whether competition from self-service platforms that let people build and run their own search and display ads was driving the company’s desire to diversify. ReachLocal’s service, by contrast, relies on more than 570 sales people based in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia. Gordon responded that a local sales force is only becoming more necessary as the online advertising market becomes “more complicated with more options.” The sales force, of course, will also be used to push ReachLocal’s new services, including Bizzy. It continues to grow; this week, ReachLocal said it would open 5 new offices.
Gordon also talked briefly about the IPO, which raised roughly $54 million, instead of the $100 million the company had initially filed to raise. “I don’t think you can time the market. We’re happy we got out,” he said. “We’re very pleased with the outcome. The whole idea was to be able to perform as a public company. It’s a milestone for us.”