In a move that will make many SEO tool makers hearts flutter, SEOmoz, one of the most widely recognized and revered creator of tools and software for the Internet marketer, received $18 million in VC funding from Brad Feld of Foundry Group and Ignition Partners.
Not only is this round of funding significant for SEOmoz, which has previously failed at attempts to secure funding, but Foundry’s investment in SEOmoz is the largest single amount the the firm has ever made, as they typically only invest early stage. Ignition contributed $3mm to the round, and Foundry Group contributed $15mm towards this round of funding.
SEOmoz’s CEO, Rand Fishkin, has become well known not only for the company that he has built but also for his willingness to take everyone along for his first two quests for funding in 2009 and 2011. In posts that read like mini-case studies and with the drama of a novelette, Fishkin gave all the gruesome details of the ups and downs of the VC dance. While many of us read about these things a relatively small percentage actually go through it so having an “insider’s look” was both educating and entertaining.
Well, now we learn of the victory dance. It was not something that Fishkin, however, seemed excited to do again but as states in the blog post describing this latest foray into financing his company, he was asked to do by his team.
Our board of directors meets quarterly to discuss the key issues facing the company and review the progress made in the prior three months. At our February meeting, each of our executive team members – Jamie from Marketing, Adam from Product, Sarah from Operations and Anthony from Engineering – expressed the sentiment that their teams could benefit from additional capital and that the time was right for a raise. Kelly Smith (of Curious Office, an observer on our board) and Michelle Goldberg (who represents Ingition) agreed.
Unfortunately, that meant getting my weary, jaded head back into the funding world, something I’d been dreading since our last financing fell apart just after we signed a term sheet in August 2011. We strongly considered but ultimately rejected hiring bankers to help us run the deal process, and this was in large part due to my personal issues of confidence. It’s hard to describe that feeling now, but I truly believed and feared that we’d once again spend months on road, pitching investors, and end in June or July with nothing to show for it again.
Fortunately, it didn’t turn out that way and while this is a good day for the SEOmoz crew it is also one that gives hope to the other software-as-a-service Internet marketing tool providers out there. Of course, part of what may have paved the way for this was the investment another Internet marketing SaaS provider HubSpot, got just over a year ago ($32 million worth) that included Google Ventures.
This investment in another provider, one that has put together a subscription model (monthly recurring revenue is the sweet sound of success to any businessperson’s ears, might mean that others will be looking to invest in the various tools that exist in the marketplace. Companies like Raven Tools, Ontolo, DIYSEO and many more are likely to be watching this closely.
So much for the latest “SEO is Dead” link bait prognosticators. Even if SEO were to change it is hard to imagine that linking will somehow not be part of the big picture for online success. Couple that with the fact that depending on the report you read, Internet marketing is still a relatively small part of many companies marketing budgets. With room to grow and an ever changing landscape that will need tools like those that SEOmoz creates to navigate an increasingly more complicated discipline, this section of the online space seems poised for even greater growth.
Our congratulations go out to the folks at SEOmoz. It will be very interesting to watch what the future holds for the SEO / Internet marketing space for the years to come.