Moo.com, the online-to-print business card company that was one of the UK’s earlier startup successes, is branching out: it is buying all of the assets of Flavors.me, the site where people can create online personal profiles, effectively the digital equivalent of the business card. Hii Def Inc., which had created Flavors.me, is selling Moo.com the Flavors.me brand, site, technology, IP and its 500,000 existing users; it will keep its other business, Goodsie, a site for small businesses to create slick e-commerce websites. It is an all-cash deal, with the actual price is not being disclosed.
Richard Moross, the CEO and founder of Moo.com, says that the company has been eyeing up more of a move into the digital space for a while, as a natural progression of their business of identity management. “Despite being a printer, the fundamentals of our business are around identity,” he says. Moo had even contemplated building something out themselves, until they heard that Hii Def was looking to sell Flavors.me. “We learned it might be for sale and got very excited,” he says.
Moo.com, which first hit the scene in 2006, built its business around the concept of fast, inexpensive and hip-looking business cards based on designs you mocked up online — a cloud-based startup before cloud because such a huge buzzword. Since then, it has also expanded into other printed products like postcards and stickers, as well as partnerships with Flickr and Facebook.
But business cards remains the main product: it printed 50 million of these last year and is on track to double that this year. Moo.com points out that among the many sad stories of the decline of print, business cards appear to be thriving, growing 20% year on year at the moment.
Still, the question of “what’s next” had been a persistent one for the company, which got $5 million from Atlas, Index and the Accelerator Group in 2006 but has since been self-funded and is profitable. “What is the future of that product how can we connect it to the web and make it more useful and give it a digital parallel?” is how Moross puts it.
The move to buying a digital site with half a million existing users is one way for Moo.com to expand.
Flavors.me already offers premium services to its users — basic features let users create online profiles, while premium features include mobile versions of those sites and the ability to promote your profile in Flavors.me’s directory.
Printing business cards can be one more option in that menu, which also makes Flavors.me into a potentially more useful service for those who have created pages on the site. Moross says that Moo.com will continue to invest in building up the site and this is not about removing any existing features. “We don’t plan to mess with it in the short term,” he says. But in future there will be “upgrades to usability of the design features, and a big integration process bringing Flavors.me’s components into our business.”
At the same time, the fact that Flavors.me has an additional revenue stream gives Moo.com more differentiation in its own business model, moving it away from revenues generated solely from print.
What’s not clear is what this might mean for another deal Moo.com has, with Flavors.me competitor About.me (which is also a stablemate of TC, in that we are both owned by AOL). As one of its premium services, About.me offers printing with Moo.com.
Moross says that one person out of a team of 11 is joining Moo.com post-acquisition. The others had been working across both Flavors.me and Goodsie.
Offices in Providence, Rhode Island and London, MOO.COM prints “MiniCards” and other stationery from your photos or designs which can be uploaded directly or accessed through Flickr, Picasa or one of Moo’s other partner sites. Every single card can have a different image on it, which has turned them into somewhat of a collectors item. MOO says they “dream up new tools that help people turn their virtual content into beautiful print products” and indeed they have. After...