Avvo acquired by Internet Brands

Business of Law

Mark Britton

Mark Britton. ABA Journal file photo by by Kathy Anderson Photography.

Online legal referral and attorney rating service Avvo has been acquired by Internet Brands.

“Internet Brands is a uniquely great fit for us,” Mark Britton, founder and CEO of Avvo, said in a press release. “With their commitment to and understanding of the legal vertical, we quickly envisioned a collective whole that would bring more consumers and lawyers together than ever before.”

Internet Brands already runs the Martindale-Nolo Legal Marketing Network, launched in 2016, which utilizes content from Nolo.com to serve as a lead generator for attorneys. Internet Brands’ online legal services also include Ngage, a live chat platform, and Total Attorneys, a lead generation system for lawyers.

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, Birtton told GeekWire that they received “a big, fair price” for the company. In 2015, Bloomberg News put Avvo’s valuation at $650 million.

Avvo, founded in 2006, provides an online portal to find legal services, a lawyer rating system, online forums and other educational content for attorneys and consumers. According to the company, the site experiences over 100 million annual visits and that over 300,000 lawyers actively use Avvo’s services. The company had raised $132 million in venture capital before today’s deal, Geekwire reported.

“Avvo’s culture of rapid innovation with the mission of serving both consumers and attorneys mirrors the strategy that has guided the Internet Brands Legal portfolio to strong growth over the past decade,” said Bob Brisco, CEO of Internet Brands, in the same release.

In part motivating the sale was Google, Britton says. “Google has become much more aggressive when it comes to local search,” including legal, he says. This has had an impact on their business. To that end, Britton reasons that partnering with Internet Brands will provide scale that allows them to have “more bites … at a consumer to understand their legal issue,” which can lower their cost of new customer acquisition and provide Avvo more stability.

That scale and stability, however, comes with a cost. “We wont be independent any more,” Britton says. “We will have to be more intentional working with our partners and sister companies to make sure we are doing things that are consistent with all of their goals.”

Meanwhile, Dan Lear, director of industry relations at Avvo, wrote in an email that “it’s business as usual.” According to the press release, Avvo will continue to operate from its Seattle headquarters under its current leadership team. The company currently employs about 350 people.

Updated at 3:46 p.m. to include Avvo’s valuation and interview with Mark Britton.



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