Judy’s Book, a site that let you search business listings for discounts and coupons, has hit the end of a $10.5 million runway and shut down, raising more questions about local business listing and community sites.
The collapse of the Seattle-based company follows the closure of BackFence this summer. BackFence said it had experienced unspecified “internal” problems, suggesting its failure was company specific. But the subsequent failure of Judy’s Book raises more questions about the sector at large. Judy’s Book started as a place where neighbors could share information about their communities, and shifted its model over time to search business listings.
Did both of these companies face a problem of execution or are there deeper issues with the local web site model as a whole? Regardless, locally focused sites continue to raise money, and it’s not clear that the sector is doomed. Yelp, for example, has done a solid job of local business and event search and continues to grow steadily, with around four million users.
Judy’s Book, like Yelp, aimed high and expanded nationally quickly. But unlike Yelp, its traction never kept pace with its ambitions or the expectations of its investors. As the company’s chief executive, told the Seattle PI, “our investors were tired…The board members said there wasn’t enough terminal velocity to see the types of returns that they were looking for.”
The company was backed by investors that included Mobius Venture Capital (itself going out of business), Ignition Partners, Ackerley Partners and angel investors.