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I don’t know what’s going on but in the last two weeks we have been approached by 3 different midsize VC/private equity firms enquiring about investment possibilities in EO. Obviously we aren’t on the radar of the big names such as Sequoia Capital or KPCB, but it still is encouraging in a way. The dilemma we have is quite funny – we really don’t know what we would use the cash for. I don’t really believe in “strategic looking” acquisitions (think Oversee buying Moniker and SnapNames) since I think they rarely create value, only opportunistic small bolt on acquisitions. Also a partial exit for our investors or me isn’t that interesting, since we really don’t need the cash either (would result in another dillema – where to put the money). So I really wonder how this will play out. In a way it is good that you really don’t need the cash, since you can really be picky and only accept a really good valuation. It also might be good to wait another year or so because I believe things will heat up again and there will be more institutional money swirling around.
It’s likely we’re going to see some industry consolidation this year, probably at least one “blockbuster deal” for the industry, maybe even two. So what are my thoughts on this and what I think should happen?
I think this “blockbuster deal” will somehow involve Namedrive. Namedrive is the fastest growing parking company, they are very aggressive, smart and flexible. They have a strong foothold in Europe. They have a lot of expertize in monetizing international traffic (international traffic is the next battleground me thinks), especially using the AFD feed. My personal thought on this is that Oversee.net should take over Namedrive, it would be a pretty good fit. Oversee has just opened a Frankfurt office and they are clearly signalling they are interested in Europe. I think Skenzo could be a buyer as well. Sedo probably not, the antipathy between Namedrive and Sedo is simply too big.
Also, I see Fabulous really getting marginalized over the last 2 years. I think it’s an option for them to sell the parking side of their business. Could be a nice scoop up for Sedo, which seems to specialize on these smaller bolt on deals (e.g Parking Panel, acquiring the parking biz of Dotster etc).
On the Yahoo! side of the fence I can see potential of something happening. I can see Skenzo being acquisitive, they have the institutional capital and can make a move. Parked.com would be a decent target I think, it’s relatively small, could be picked up well and would be a good fit. HitFarm/Reinvent won’t probably take part in these consolidation games.
And then there are the deals that look unthinkable at the moment, but could happen. Oversee.net is probably looking for an exit eventually. It could be bought by somebody, likely coming from outside the direct domain business. Why not Google for example? Sounds crazy, you can never rule it out though. Could be an ad network as well, would be a pretty decent fit. Why not Verisign. Sounds even crazier. But they clearly have the fire power to do it. Something similar could happen with Sedo as well.
I’m just really thinking out loud here what can happen….