Founded in 2005 by former Excite execs, Oodle quickly became one of the largest aggregators and search engines for classifieds on the Web. After some bumps and hiccups along the way, the company began to focus more on the social side of classifieds, going on to power the Facebook Marketplace. Oodle finally hit profitability and became cash flow positive last year, and today it’s punctuating that progress with an exit, joining home shopping giant QVC.
Oodle CEO Craig Donato said in a blog post today that the team has been increasingly focused on social commerce, and that “no one does social shopping better than QVC.” In an accompanying announcement, QVC confirmed its acquisition of Oodle, saying that it will be acquiring “all the assets” of the company in a deal that is expected to close by December 31st.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, though our sources indicate that part of the San Mateo-based team (under 50 employees according to LinkedIn) will be joining QVC. It is not clear, however, whether or not the company will continue to operate independently.
Oodle has raised some $23 million in outside funding to date from Redpoint, Greylock and Jafco Ventures, according to CrunchBase. The company currently operates a network of online marketplaces on Facebook, iOS and Android that collectively have 15 million monthly unique users. It has also partnered with corporations like AutoTrader to sell its social advertising product, Oodle Pro.
In a statement today, QVC CEO Claire Watts said of the acquisition: “The QVC shopping experience is fundamentally social in nature … with this acquisition, we can fuel our evolving social commerce experience. Oodle brings a great team that shares our values and passion for creating a rich customer experience.”
What also may be of interest to QVC is Oodle’s mobile platform, which allow users to post items they’re looking to sell — whatever they may be — on both Oodle.com as well as its marketplace on Facebook. The company’s mobile apps offer a classifieds search engine that displays items for sale or are being given away, enabling users to peruse through thousands of local listings on Oodle, Facebook and Craigslist.
In that regard, Oodle has directly been going up against the classifieds marketplace of record, Craigslist, and at one point even engaged in a brief war of words with the site over its perceived lack of security.
By adding real identities via Facebook authentication to its social classifieds marketplace, Oodle believed it had the potential to become an appealing alternative to more open sites like Craigslist. The Oodle CEO explained in an interview last year, telling TechCrunch that “the majority of social commerce [focuses on providing] recommendations from friends about what to buy. What we are doing is different — who you are buying from matters as much as what you are buying.”
In terms of monetization, by focusing on social classifieds, Oodle hasn’t been able to benefit from the typical listings fees found on many other platforms. Instead, it has become profitable, in part, by charging businesses to use its premium services, including reporting and the ability to link their listings to company Facebook pages.
We’re currently reaching out to both companies and to sources in regard to the price of acquisition as well as the terms of the deal. We will update if and when we learn more.
More TC coverage of Oodle here.