ValleyWag posted rumors about layoffs at SpotRunner and related financial trouble. PaidContent spoke to Spot Runner and apparently got the straight story:
Company spokesperson Rosabel Tao, VP of corporate communications, told me that the layoffs constitute about 10 percent of its employees, but at the same time, it is hiring another 40 employees in various positions, so will come out about the same as before. The reason? Tao says earlier this year, the company started to reorganize itself along three business lines. The company started as a TV ad seller using online, focused on small businesses, but has grown from there and added online/search, radio and other local sales channels to its portfolio.
SpotRunner has raised a total of more than $100 million from investors. The company also purchased Weblistic (to which I had served as an early advisor) in an effort to add search marketing.
I have followed this company since before launch and have been impressed by the foresight and polish of some of their efforts and the general “smarts” of the leadership. But I’ve also seen them fail to capitalize early enough on a few trends.
Spot Runner is more like Google or Yahoo in many respects than it is like a yellow pages publisher, with a SMB sales channel. Accordingly, it’s had some of the same channel struggles in reaching the SMB market that Google and Yahoo have. Other than reading these aforementioned posts it’s not clear to me whether the company is that interested in the market anymore (I’ve asked for a comment). For some time it has been also working with its large agency investors to localize national advertising.
Spot Runner has also diversified into a range of other media (from its original emphasis on cable TV). The comany was really the first to attempt to make video affordable for SMBs and built an impressive platform to manage distribution of that video on cable. However it now has more than a dozen competitors in the online video segment.
As Rafat Ali points out in his post (PaidContent) next year may bring more economic pain (let’s hope not) and that may test Spot Runner among scores of others. However, as something of a bulwark against that potential pain, Spot Runner has sizable revenues from what I understand.