London-based market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) has acquired Compete for $75 million. Another $75 million in possible earn-outs through 2010 brings the total acquisition price up to $150 million. Publicly-traded comScore, by comparison, has market cap of $570 million. TNS will use the data culled from Compete’s panel of 2 million Web surfers to measure online purchasing behavior and the effectiveness of online ads. Compete started out as an Idealab company, and has raised about $43 million since 2000. Other investors include Charles River Ventures, Commonwealth Capital Partners, North Hill Ventures, Split Rock Partners, and William Blair Capital Partners. They were undoubtedly probably hoping for a better outcome, but a solid double is better than a strike out. (Update: Here’s the Compete blog post about the deal).
Compete’s revenues in 2007 rose 50 percent to $15 million, but it lost $4.5 million. Compete offers Web traffic stats for free on its site Compete.com, and competes with Alexa, Quantcast, (both also free) and comScore (not free). According to Compete’s own stats, it attracts about the same number of U.S. visitors a month as Alexa (727,000 for Compete vs. 758,000 for Alexa), but Quantcast is the leader with more than double that (1.9 million uniques).