July 30, 2020 (Courtesy of the Jacksonville Business Journal) Web.com Group CEO Sharon Rowlands has never had to acquire a company via Zoom before.
As the company continues to expand, though, it couldn’t let the pandemic bring it to a standstill, Rowlands said. Instead, the company, which has been private since the end of 2018, continues to look towards growth and expansion — in both geography and capabilities — even if it means getting creative during the process.
After the company announced the acquisition of Australian digital services company Webcentral Group, the Business Journal sat down (virtually) with Rowlands to discuss the deal and how it fit in with the company’s plans for the future.
What made the two companies a good match?
About a year ago, we did an acquisition of a company called Dreamscape, which really took us into the Southeast Asia marketplace. This is really building on that strategy, of globalizing our business. We have a strong footprint in North America and a business in the U.K. and this is really building up our Southeast Asia business, which we really see as a great growth opportunity. It brings us a lot more scale. We really move into the number one position on both Australia and Singapore.
How does the acquisition position Web.com for future growth?
It is geographic expansion and we have a lot of capabilities that we will also be able to cross sell through all the different brands that we have in the portfolio. But it’s great to have presence on the ground and have local brands that are well-recognized.
What is the Web.com strategy for acquisitions and expansion?
Our business is all about helping get businesses online and get the successful in a digital world. Clearly, it’s a huge marketplace. We focus on everything from very small businesses just getting started, entrepreneurs with just one or two people in the company to larger businesses that have a significant presence. We really help them with everything from getting their first footprint with their domain, getting a website up and running, getting traffic to their website, helping them make sure their digital presence is secure with cyber security offerings and professional email services. So, everything a business needs to be successful in a digital world. Our strategy is to grow by having great solutions for our customers. By providing great customer care and having a good local presence in the markets that we operate in, so that we’re relevant to different parts of the world and very recognizable.
We really didn’t have a strong presence in Southeast Asia, so with the acquisition of Dreamscape and now Webcentral, we now have a very strong footprint in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. We are very well positioned to grow in some of the more emerging markets, like Indonesia.
Will you be looking at additional acquisitions in similar markets the near future?
Yes, I definitely think so. We’re going to be very inquisitive. We are fortunate to be owned by Siris Capital, who are a fabulous private equity company and really believes in the Web.com business and the Web.com team. So, as we identify companies that can really add to this strategy, whether that’s additional companies in Southeast Asian or potentially companies in Europe, if we find more businesses that are a good fit for us, we’ll continue to acquire.
Was the acquisition a difficult decision to make during a global pandemic?
We’ve been working for quite a few months, and this is the first time I’ve done an acquisition over Zoom. But there’s a lot of first time things happening. I think we’re just having to get on and make things work. We’re doing what we can and I knew it was a great fit for us as a business. We did all our due diligence, we met the team over Zoom and did our homework. I suspect this is going to be going on for quite a long time, but we don’t want to stand still as a company or organization.
Has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted Web.com significantly?
If anything, I think the demand for online services are increasing. I think more and more companies are realizing they have to have an e-commerce arm to their business. So far, we’ve done pretty well. I worry that in the longer term, if we start to see more bankruptcies, even small business going out of business, if we start to see a serious recession, that could obviously affect everybody. But so far, we’ve done pretty well and I’ve been incredibly proud of my organization and all of our employees. It’s been very seamless. Everybody’s been very productive. We’ve all gotten used to seeing children, cats and dogs and its actually been a tremendous amount of fun. We’ve been doing our best to sort of support our employees as everybody tries to balance being productive and looking after their families.