Friday, July 30, 2010
Interview with Jeffrey Stibel, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Thursday afternoon, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., a new firm built on assets spun out of Dun & Bradstreet, announced that it had raised $100M in funding from Great Hill Capital. Little noticed by most, the new firm is headed by Jeffrey Stibel, who is involved in such firms as Edgecast, Autobytel, The Search Agency, was CEO of Web.com, and had served as GM at United Online. Stibel and his team have been instrumental in many local, successful startups, both public and private, and have moved Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.'s headquarters to Malibu. We caught up with Stibel last night to hear more about the deal and his aggressive hiring plans.
Jeff, thanks for talking with us this afternoon. Tell us about the deal?
Jeffrey Stibel: It's about a $200 million deal when you look at both the investment capital that we raised, plus the asset that we acquired, which is Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. We've moved the corporate headquarters back to my hometown in Malibu, and we've purchase one of the largest, if not the largest, office in Malibu, at 20,000 square feet. We're now hiring the best and brightest in Los Angeles. We've got a long history of building businesses, both in Los Angeles and beyond, and both public and private companies. The last couple of companies we've run have been in the South, including Web.com, which is a public company which we ran for the past five years. As a management team, we wanted to get back to Los Angeles.
We imagine you're probably going to be one of the biggest companies in Malibu…
Jeffrey Stibel: Hopefully, we'll be one of the biggest tech firms in Los Angeles.
So what is Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. all about. I think people are fairly familiar with Dun & Bradstreet, but exactly what part of D&B have you got here?
Jeffrey Stibel: What this really stands for, is providing credit services to business. We will help them monitor and build their business. This is really what people think of when they think about the core Dun & Bradstreet business. Dun & Bradstreet itself will continue to provide data and consumer insight, but what we are is laser focused on providing business credit services, so that people can monitor and build their credit and add credibility. Adding Credibility to our name was very much deliberate, and we plan over time to move from the credit area to credibility as a whole.
Now how does this fit together with the Internet? All of your prior ventures have been Internet companies, and Dun & Bradstreet isn't exactly known as an Internet name.
Jeffrey Stibel: It is interesting. People think of Dun & Bradstreet as an old line company. The way I describe it, however, is it's a 169 year old startup. It's got all of this history and tradition-- Abraham Lincoln once worked for the company--but it's also a startup. We chose to do this, as effectively a big startup, because we wanted to restart the company and leverage an Internet platform. All of its products and services are Internet-based, and will continue to be Internet based. We effectively already have a cloud platform, which enables businesses small and large to build their credit, and as that evolves, to build credibility. Credibility means things like having a web presence and making sure that the web and social ecosystem really resonates with your customer base. We, as a team, will do what we have always done best, and bring that to the Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. as we take over the business.
You mentioned you're doing lots of hiring, what kinds of people are you looking to add?
Jeffrey Stibel: It's all across the board. We are an active, and significant employer in Southern California. We're hiring everything from finance, to marketing, to technology. In particular, we believe deeply in the talent base in Los Angeles, and that it's the best in the world. We moved from a public company, and could have decided to have our home base wherever we wanted. But, when we started The Search Agency, even though we could put it anywhere, we put it in Los Angeles. When we started EdgeCast, we put it here. That's why we keep coming home, because of the talent pool here across the board.
How many people, roughly, do you think you'll be adding?
Jeffrey Stibel: We've currently got 250 employees across seven different offices. Our new corporate office has 20,000 square feet, with just a small group of executives now. But, we're looking to fill that space up pretty quickly. You can do the math. We're a growth oriented company, and with $100M in committed capital, that should go towards our greatest resource and asset, our team.
It is a significant amount of capital -- why so much?
Jeffrey Stibel: Simple. It's a big, big opportunity. We're talking about 28 to 30 million businesses in the U.S. alone, and we want to penetrate every one of them. We've got products and solutions that every single business needs, and as we move into the Internet era, those products and solutions are becoming more and more valuable. We need to focus on building and growing the firm, and that comes with significant investment.
Thanks for the time, and good luck!