Angie’s List is a customer review website that charges clients a monthly fee to be able to access that information. Angie’s list might have been a viable platform a few years ago, but with websites like Yelp and Google+, customers can now get those same types of reviews for free. Yet Angie’s List continues to charge a hefty fee, fooling customers and investors into believing this is a premium service worthy of charging money for. Savvy researchers can easily get the same information, if not more, by simply visiting the Better Business Bureau website for free.
The truth of the matter is that customers really do not have any reason to need to fork over a monthly fee to access reviews if the information isn’t more impartial or accurate than the free websites. While the Angie’s List website is referred to as customer driven, all one has to do is take a close look at the revenue breakdown of the website to get the real story. Angie’s List revenue in 2012 was overwhelmingly from advertisers. With 69% of the revenue from advertisers, it is pretty clear what is more important to the structure of this business. Advertisers first, then customers down the line.
Customers who subscribe to Angie’s List only need refer to a report by Richmond, VA. NBC Channel 12 affiliate to see why they are not getting what they pay for. The report went on to show in detail how a top rated heating and air conditioning company was dropped in the search results because they wouldn’t pay the $12,000-$15,000 to get a better ranking. This means that a low rated company with deep pockets can easily climb the rankings at Angie’s List, contrary to the service that the website claims to provide. If this is an example of being customer driven, then the clients who pay good money to reference those reviews are being taken advantage of.
While Angie’s List became a leader in customer review websites, it has received quite a large amount of poor reviews from customers who are beginning to take notice. With the mounting complaints, and the fact customers can now get that information for free from a variety of websites, it is unclear how Angie’s List is still getting consumers to fork over money. Despite having been online for 18 years and growing revenues, Angie’s List has never made a profit in all that time. Using equity and debt to finance itself is not an attractive investing opportunity for clients any longer. One only need look at the traffic numbers to see a trend. Yelp offer free website reviews, and enjoys over 25 million visitors each month. Angie’s List barely gets 5 million visitors in that same time, hoping to squeeze money from those visitors at every opportunity.
It is becoming more clear that Angie’s List is a losing bet with both investors and customers. The revenue the website makes per customer dropped $50 down to $25, clearly showing these clients are becoming less willing to pay to read reviews they can now see for free elsewhere. Eventually those clients will be unwilling to pay any fee, and that is when the bottom will drop out for Angie’s List. Investors are also questioning the $21 per share price, needing it to grow over 25% annually for over a decade to get a decent ROI. Factors that are scaring away investors range from membership growth declining, membership revenue declining, new debt, and insiders cashing out of their positions. These are all red flags that have investors unloading their shares or steering clear of this risky proposition.
With a streak of over 18 years of not showing a profit, and no value proposition for investors, the Angie’s List stock could plummet to zero in the very near future.