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SEOmoz Announces VC Funding, Staff Shuffle & Future Goals



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It’s not often that one of your good friends–and industry peers–has a big enough announcement to compete with the likes of Google or Yahoo, but SEOmoz deserves a post all to itself.

CEO, and chief mozzer, Rand Fishkin has just announced the company has raised $1.25 million to help it grow and develop its community of search marketers. Why is SEOmoz selling a “small” part of the company? Here’s what Rand says…

The decision was made based on the fact that we want to do more – and grow faster. The premium content stuff isn’t just fun and interesting, it’s something we love – something we’re passionate about – something we think can make the web a better place by making search marketers smarter – better, stronger, faster. We literally have a hundred different ideas for tools, search analytics, tracking, guides, resources and more and we’re in a position to recruit help from the best and brightest the industry has to offer… but, we can’t do it alone.

What’s your first reaction? Mine? A mixture of “good for them” and “how does that gel with being an open-source community.” Ah, but the “randfish” dispels any fears…

Let me make this totally clear  – this money is going to change SEOmoz – it’s going to change the quality of the services we provide, it’s going to change the quality of the people we can attract, it’s going to change our ability to market ourselves on a bigger stage, but (big, big but), it’s not going to change our culture or our style or our approach to doing what we love to do – search marketing. The biggest outcry I felt from folks was the “Noooo!! Don’t sell out to the man,” line. I promise you, we are doing anything but.

Having worked with SEOmoz–and consider Rand & Gillian to be good friends–I’m obviously very excited that the company has been able to turn its growing community into such a viable business. At SES, Rand (publicly) revealed they had over 1000 premium subscribers. Over 1000! And the list price for membership is $50 per month – do the math on that!

So, why does SEOmoz deserve the recognition? Here’s why…

  • They validate that SEO is a thriving industry that still attracts investment.
  • They validate that blogs can indeed create a business model that brings in real revenue numbers.
  • They validate that building a community is much more than just how many RSS subscribers you have.
  • They validate that being open and transparent with your actions, builds trust and grows customer loyalty.
  • They give me hope that Marketing Pilgrim might one day achieve similar success. ;-)

Other news shared by Rand.

  • Matt Inman is leaving SEOmoz at the end of the month to pursue his own stuff. Matt’s leaving big shoes to fill, but knowing him, whatever he does will be a success.
  • Jeff Pollard will take over from Matt, having been with the company for 2 years already.
  • Lucas NG (aka shor) will start writing for SEOmoz. I first met Lucas in Sydney, he’s a great guy and very smart.

Lastly, Rand suggests the VC investment will likely lead to the sale of the company, at some point.

One final note on the outside investment – when we agreed to accept this money, we took a step in a direction that will probably end with the sale of SEOmoz (as we’re most likely not a target to go public). I think that this is one of the other big fears that members and commenters had – and I can completely empathize. However, I will say this – I’m in this for the long haul, and even though SEOmoz may, in 4-7 years, be part of another company, I’m going to do my damndest to make sure that all the great things about us get preserved.

Congratulations to everyone at SEOmoz and here’s to seeing what you can do, now that you’re not having to bootstrap every new project. ;-)

  • http://www.elixirsystems.com Fionn

    Sounds great. I hope we are next :)
    Good luck to Rand and the team. It will change their Company and it may be very hard to keep their culture with VC’s breathing down their necks but its very posssible he will sell and make good money later so good for them.

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  • http://www.wordhugger.com Word Hugger

    Thats awesome. I found this post from Mashable, and as I said on the comments over there, I hope we get to see some cool new tools come out with that funding!

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  • http://www.seomoz.org randfish

    We’re totally planning some very cool tools – the limits on our ideas will be far fewer :) Also – Andy, that premium member total is now 1,290.

  • http://www.distilled.co.uk/blog/ Will Critchlow

    Great write-up Andy. Good to see your spin on things.

    I’ve written about this in a few places but I’m very excited about what’s to come – and that 1,000 subs number (updated to 1,290 by Rand) is awesome. The success of SEOmoz and their subscriber base is a real motivator for me. Although our business is different, the level of success is definitely inspirational.

    Well done all!

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    I’m usually a bit leery of how outside funding will change an open community, but I think SEOmoz is a different kind of community and I have less worries for Rand and Gillian than I normally would.

    I’m interested to see the changes that will come and above all else I’m happy for SEOmoz and wish everyone there well.

    I’ll miss Matt though.

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