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We were for sale, but now we're not says TrustedPlaces

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TrustedPlaces, one of the UK’s earliest ‘social’ local review startups, has admitted that they were in speculative sales talks until recently. I confirmed with co-founder Walid Al Saqqaf who said that they were unexpectedly approached two months ago by an interested party looking to acquire the site.

As a result of this interest he said he and co-founder Sokratis Papafloratos decided to start a process “to see who else was interested.”

However, after several negotiations they have decided to put these talks on the back-burner and keep going until they are cash flow positive.

Al Saqqaf told me the sale process had turned out to be “a distraction” now that the “growth in revenue is reflecting the growth in trafffic.” He says the company is projected to be cash flow positive by the second quarter next year, and said they were in a good position funding-wise. So far the site gets its revenues from brand advertising, sales to local businesses via a sales agent, a sales service tool for businesses, and bookings made via Top Table. TrustedPlaces members can review restaurants, bars, hotels, cafes and share information and profiles.

TrustedPlaces must be confident about their position if they turned down a sale offer, or perhaps their original backers think they would get a better price for the startup once it is in a better cash position. In May 2006, the startup won £500,000 venture backing from HOWZAT Media, the investment fund started by Cheapflights’ David Soskin and Hugo Burge.

Meanwhile Qype has rocketed ahead of most of the Yelp-like sites in Europe and the UK. Perhaps it now wants to hoover up the rest of the market with an acquisiton spree? In September it secured an additional €8 million funding.

Update: Qype founder Tweets “no shopping spree from qype.”

  • http://www.jofarnold.com Jof Arnold

    Who says Euro startups chicken-out with low-value early exists? Go, go Trusted Places!

  • Sam Cunningham

    Qype should buy Trusted Places.

  • http://www.bview.co.uk Dave Summers

    BView will win this war and buy all the UK competition.

  • http://trustedplaces.com Walid Al Saqqaf

    I just wanted to clarify a few points which seem to have been incorrectly stated in this post. We are currently reviewing our strategic options and are having ongoing discussions with certain parties to determine what will provide best value to TrustedPlaces shareholders. However we remain committed to making TrustedPlaces the best site for local reviews and local business advertising by focusing on product development and by growing our revenues and traffic. As you can understand, we are not in a position to comment on future financial performance as mentioned in the post but are excited about our prospects. But for now lets be Merry and on behalf of the TrustedPlaces team I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2009 ;-)

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com Mike Butcher

    Walid – Just FYI, the post is not “incorrect stated”, because I have you on record saying everything I quoted you as saying, and notes to prove it. But good luck, sale or not.

  • http://www.localdatacompany.com Ollie Toogood

    I think we should all be careful before commenting on others businesses and their dealings. These are very tricky and testing times, let’s work together and help each other. Information is sensitive and should be respected as such. Happy Christmas to one & all.

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com Mike Butcher

    Ollie Toogood- I’m not commenting – I’m reporting on what I was told. If you want timid media go read some press releases.

  • http://trustedplaces.com Walid Al Saqqaf

    Hi Mike, thanks for the comment I believe we have had a few crossed wires – I take responsibility for that. Doing a strategic review is sensitive and it is hard to comment on a process that is live. When we have more information that we are comfortable releasing we’ll be sure to talk to you again… and hopefully it will be over a beer.

  • http://www.ojointernet.com/noticias/trustedplaces-ha-estado-en-negociaciones-para-venderse/ TrustedPlaces ha estado en negociaciones para venderse

    […] así, parece que las negociaciones se han quedado estancadas hasta que el sitio sea completamente rentable y haya un flujo de caja positivo, algo que se espera […]

  • http://away.gr/2008/12/24/trustedplaces-for-sale-or-not/ Το Trustedplaces πωλείται, ή μήπως όχι; | Away.gr, ελληνικό blog για την τεχνολογία, τα games και την επιχειρηματικότητα

    […] μόνο όταν υπάρξει θετικό cash flow για την εταιρία τους.[via] SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “Το Trustedplaces πωλείται, ή μήπως όχι;”, url: […]

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com/2009/01/07/yelp/ Cry havoc, and let loose the dogs of war - Yelp launches into UK local reviews battleground

    […] be able to hold their own? Here’s my prediction: Trusted Places will try to sell to Yelp, as hinted before Christmas. Qype will fight it out. The rest will either re-focus and get out of the way or die. The market […]

  • http://www.bebeoyunlari.tk bebek oyunlari

    Hi Mike, thanks for the comment I believe we have had a few crossed wires – I take responsibility for that. Doing a strategic review is sensitive and it is hard to comment on a process that is live. When we have more information that we are comfortable releasing we’ll be sure to talk to you again… and hopefully it will be over a beer.

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com/2009/07/03/trustedplaces-one-step-closer-to-profitability-thanks-to-localpeople/ TrustedPlaces one step closer to profitability thanks to LocalPeople

    […] Local reviews startup TrustedPlaces has partnered with Northcliffe Media to power the regional newspaper publisher’s experimental hyperlocal web strategy. News of the deal comes six months after its founders stepped back from speculative sales talks to focus on building revenue and cash flow. […]

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