Insurance comparison marketplace QuoteWizard has been acquired by LendingTree for $300 million, and the price tag could rise even more should the bootstrapped Seattle startup continue its recent record-setting growth.
The deal gives Charlotte-based LendingTree — a publicly traded marketplace for home, loans business and other types of loans — a foothold in the insurance industry and injects a massive amount of cash into QuoteWizard. The deal could ultimately be worth up to $370.2 million should QuoteWizard hit certain growth targets over the next three years.
QuoteWizard, ranked No. 65 on the GeekWire 200, our list of the Pacific Northwest’s top startups, has been self-funded and family-owned since it was founded in 2006. It employs 150 people in offices in Seattle, Denver and Sacramento. In an interview with GeekWire, QuoteWizard CEO Scott Peyree said there won’t be layoffs as a result of the acquisition.
The QuoteWizard name will remain, and it will continue to be based in Seattle. When the sale closes in the fourth quarter, QuoteWizard will become LendingTree’s insurance division.
The initial post-acquisition focus will be integrating offerings between the two organizations. For example, Peyree said, home loans are a big part of LendingTree, and with the addition of QuoteWizard, the company will also be able to offer home insurance in the same place.
Ultimately, the goal, according to Peyree, is to position LendingTree/QuoteWizard as “the Expedia of consumer financial product shopping.”
“Whether you are out there looking for insurance products or lending products, or credit card products, we want to be the place that is top of mind to go,” Peyree said.
After some tough times a couple years ago, QuoteWizard has rebounded, posting significant revenue growth in 2018. For the first half of the year, QuoteWizard reported $75.6 million in revenue. That number is up 119 percent over the $34.5 million Peyree said the company brought in during the first half of 2017.
Earlier this year, QuoteWizard disclosed a record profit $12 million on $80 million in revenue in 2017, a high mark for the company at the time. Peyree attributed the revenue jumps to a lot of the new products and technology QuoteWizard has released over the last couple years taking hold.
The 12-year-old company provides consumers with quotes for home, auto, renters, life and health insurance. Insurers get marketing exposure from the QuoteWizard platform.
Prior to this deal, QuoteWizard made a few acquisitions of its own. In January, it acquired California-based Bantam Connect, a call transfer company specializing in insurance leads. That came just a few months after QuoteWizard acquired insurance shopping site RateElert.
Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree, said the “partnership makes perfect sense,” due to QuoteWizard’s strong financials and compatible cultures.
At the beginning of the year, QuoteWizard started looking for an investment partner. Peyree already knew several of the LendingTree leaders, and they had discussed combining before. And because of what both companies offered, and also didn’t offer, teaming up made sense.
“LendingTree wasn’t doing anything in insurance, and we are obviously one of the biggest players out there in insurance right now, so it was just a perfect, natural fit,” Peyree said.