Rover and DogVacay merge to dominate the pet-sitting market

Putting an end to a fierce competition in the pet-sitting business, Rover and DogVacay have agreed to join forces. Rover will be acquiring DogVacay in an all-stock deal.

DogVacay’s investors, including Benchmark, Andreessen Horowitz, First Round, Sherpa Capital and Foundation Capital, will now become Rover shareholders. Further terms of the deal were not disclosed, but “all of our investors are extremely happy with their return,” claimed DogVacay founder Aaron Hirschhorn.

Existing Rover CEO Aaron Easterly will be in charge of the merged business. Aaron Hirschhorn, who founded DogVacay, will stay involved throughout the integration. He’ll also be taking a board seat.

“We get to continue the mission, that’s what’s so exciting,” said Hirschhorn about the company sticking to its core business. The DogVacay website will remain in operation for the foreseeable future and the businesses will continue to run as they have.

Both had a very similar model, with a marketplace for pet sitting, dog walking and other pet-care services. Each take about a 20 percent cut from bookings. Total bookings on the combined sites amounted to $150 million for 2016. The growing businesses are not yet profitable. 

The merged company will be headquartered at Rover’s Seattle location. The DogVacay team will remain in Santa Monica, but with 22 positions set to be eliminated.

One of the new focuses will be to expand internationally. DogVacay already does well in Canada, which Easterly was enthusiastic about. They also plan to grow their dog-walking business and potentially introduce other pet-related categories.

“We’re going to be taking a close look at anything that can help people become amazing pet owners despite the challenges of modern living,” said Easterly. 

When asked about future plans, he hoped for an IPO someday. “We think being a public company is the most likely outcome,” he predicted.