On Wednesday, leading online automotive marketplace Cars.com announced a definitive agreement to acquire tech companies Dealer Inspire and Launch Digital Marketing (LDM) for $165 million in cash plus other considerations for performance.
Dealer Inspire provides modern websites and a suite of online retailing solutions. Launch Digital Marketing provides advanced digital marketing to automotive dealers. Cars.com will supplement by integrating and distributing the solutions through its extensive sales network.
Dealer Inspire and LDM have grown rapidly over the last few years as the flexibility of their platform and the results of their marketing strategies have gained popularity with dealers. Two executives from Cars.com will join the Dealer Inspire team, Gregg McGivney as COO and Darren Haygood as CRO, to continue scaling the DI business. Joe Chura will remain as CEO, and Dealer Inspire will continue to operate independently, although the Cars.com advertising team will grow the reach of the Launch Digital Marketing products alongside the Cars.com advertising solutions.
There is large potential to expand the AI capabilities of the Dealer Inspire suite with the analytics of the vast Cars.com consumer footprint.
“Cars.com is an enabler to the retail dealer system, and with the acquisition of these innovative technology companies, we are well positioned to drive digital dealer solutions forward by providing the most comprehensive set of solutions for dealers to generate sales and efficiencies,” said Alex Vetter, President and CEO of Cars.com. “The acquisition of Dealer Inspire and LDM aligns with our strategy of integrating new capabilities and additional talent to accelerate organic growth, strengthen the retail experience, deepen dealer connections and improve clarity of attribution while generating additional cash flow and enhancing shareholder value.”
Both Dealer Inspire and LDM, with their digital services ranging from providing progressive dealer websites to digital automotive marketing services, are expected to be complementary extensions to the Cars.com online marketplace platform and add to its suite of dealer solutions.
“I’m proud of what Dealer Inspire and LDM have built in the last few years,” said Joe Chura, co-founder and CEO of Dealer Inspire and LDM, “but we are not even close to reaching our potential. Cars.com provides us the data to enhance the intelligence of our current and future product offerings, and a much larger distribution than we have today. Cars.com also shares our mission of innovation and dealer advocacy and together we can drive our industry forward.”
With the acquisition of Dealer Inspire, customers will have access to new features on Cars.com such as:
Additionally, the acquisition will broaden the suite of dealer solutions provided by Cars.com with the following new offerings:
Dealer Inspire and LDM earned $41 million in annual revenue and $4 million in adjusted EBITDA in 2017. They have over 1,700 customers and some 400 employees.
The transaction is expected to close this month, subject to customary closing conditions. Under the terms of the agreement, Cars.com will pay $165 million in case at the close with additional incentives up to $40 million for over-performance over the next three years.
Cars.com expects to achieve a 10 to 11 percent revenue growth this year. The company’s 2017 preliminary unaudited results consisted of approximately $626 million in annual revenue, with a net income of about $242 million including a tax benefit of $120 million, and an adjusted EBITDA of about $239 million (38 percent of revenue).
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is the financial advisor to Cars.com, with Seyfarth Shaw LLC acting as the company’s legal counsel. Greenwich Capital and Bryan Cave LLC are acting as financial advisor and legal counsel, respectively, to Dealer Inspire and LDM.
Click here to read the full press release.