ANGI Homeservices CEO on Bringing a New Brand to Life

ANGI Homeservices CEO Chris Terrill at Nasdaq yesterday.

ANGI Homeservices Inc. officially launched yesterday, and for CEO Chris Terrill it was a busy summer bringing his company HomeAdvisor and new acquisition Angie’s List together to create the new, publicly-traded brand.

The $500 million deal between HomeAdvisor parent IAC/InterActiveCorp to acquire Angie’s List was announced in May, and the official launch of ANGI Homeservices yesterday provides homeowners with access to a combined network of 200,000 home service professionals with coverage across 500 different categories and 400 markets. ANGI Homeservices began trading on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “ANGI” yesterday, and operates 10 brands in eight countries, including HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, mHelpDesk, HomeStars (Canada), MyHammer (Germany), MyBuilder (UK), Werkspot (Netherlands), Instapro (Italy) and Travaux (France).

Terrill talked with Chief Executive about the challenges in bringing two brands with two different business models together, the synergies between the two brands and what’s on the horizon in the home services space.

Q: You’re no stranger to rebranding, having overseen the 2012 rebrand of ServiceMagic to HomeAdvisor. What was the thinking in creating a larger brand bringing HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List together?

A: When you look at mergers, you oftentimes have to stretch your imagination as to why there are synergies and hope that downstream something works. I think in this case, you had two of the top, premier brands in the space. We were really, really strong in terms of our technology, our monetization, our matching engine, etc. They, obviously, had a bigger brand than we did that still had a lot of traffic coming to it, but their model wasn’t as effective and as efficient as ours in terms of monetization. So it was a truly natural, synergistic combination where we could leverage what we did really well, take a lot of that traffic and do a better job of monetizing that, and helping those folks coming to Angie’s List find the help they need faster, more easily and more efficiently.

“This was a very natural, synergistic merger, and it gave us scale.” – Chris Terrill

When we looked at it, there were very natural areas—you had traffic coming in that we could do more with, you had our R&D, our technology and products that we could leverage on their platform. We can take our our same-day service, which is our newest on-demand product, and our matching engine and those are great examples of things we can inject into the Angie’s List ecosystem. At the end of the day, that gives more value to their advertisers and helps their homeowners have additional ways of finding the help they need. This was a very natural, synergistic merger, and it gave us scale. Scale in this space is absolutely critical. It’s a very difficult space to build liquidity on both sides of the marketplace, and scale allows you to have the biggest pool of the best service providers. If you’re a homeowner you want to go where the best and the most service providers are, and if you’re a service provider you want to go to the place where homeowners are coming in project-ready.

Q: As CEO, what are the top items on your to-do list in the year ahead?

A: We had a really strong plan going into the merger and everything that we thought we knew has been validated. We’re so similar that there were no real surprises, so at this point it’s all about execution. We told The Street that we would have a combined EBITDA in the neighborhood of about $270 million, and we’re extremely focused on showing that the merger made sense, and that the outcome generates that kind of EBITDA. I truly believe that if we just execute on exactly what we thought we needed to do, we’ll be in great shape. If you can show The Street that this was a really smart, highly accretive plan, then you can start to do really interesting things in the coming years with the combined platform. So near-term, we’re extremely focused on just executing and delivering on what we’ve said.

As a CEO, I’m trying to make sure, on one hand, that I respect the culture that Angie’s List has, and on the other hand to merge the two cultures together so that we’re all on the same page, we have a shared vision, we’re truly one company and we’re working really well together. If I can’t bring everyone together and have a shared vision, we’re not going to get where we need to be.

Q: Your staff grew by one-third as a result of this deal. How are you handling the increased headcount and the logistics that go with it?

A: My philosophical approach is just heavy, heavy transparency. You had a lot of folks on the Angie’s List side who were hesitant and had trepidations over what it might mean for them personally and professionally, and we went into it with the mindset of being completely transparent, to share what the vision is and help them understand why we think this makes sense. We had a tremendous number of meetings and town halls, and really tried to be very direct and very honest, so that they could get comfortable and, frankly, get excited.

I think that’s the best way to take two different cultures and try to bring them together. I think if you try to impose one culture on the other you’re going to get resistance, and if you try to soft-pedal things you’re going to breed distrust, so my goal was to make sure that everybody really understood how they fit in, why this strategically worked, and even for those folks who weren’t going to be with the organization as we right-sized, helping them understand that, as well.