Next phase of local is more Amazon than Google

Bambi Francisco Roizen · June 29, 2011 · Short URL:

ReachLocal CEO Zorik Gordon shares lessons and the future of local at Splash LA

Zorik Gordon, CEO and co-founder of ReachLocal, gave one of the keynote speeches at Splash LA. Zorik started ReachLocal with three other partners in Encino seven years ago. Today, it is a publicly-traded entity with 1500 employees. In its most recent quarter, ReachLocal, which helps local businesses with their marketing and advertising, generated $84 million in sales, up 32% from a year ago.

In his keynote, Zorik gave a glimpse of the future of local: "We're in the midst of another huge inflection point for local," said Zorik. "This phase that was dominated by Google and Yelp and is disrupting offline directories is now being disrupted by this next-generation of players, the Groupon's and the Living Social's of the world."

"Our space is going to turn upside down," he said. "The next phase of local is going to be more like Amazon than it is Google. It is not about telling you who to go to... it’s actually about, 'Let’s make the transaction better.'"

Check out his speech for more of his thoughts. He also shared his lessons as an entrepreneur, including something only understood by entrepreneurs who've succeeded in local: The "local" business is inherently a feet-on-the-street business. (Google Ventures' Joe Kraus says something similar in this interview.)

Pick your team carefully: Entrepreneurship is a journey and an iterative process. You better find the right people to work with for the long haul.

Don't be greedy: One thing ReachLocal did was take the money. Don't quibble about the money and the stakes. It's a zero-sum game. Either you're going to be worth a lot or nothing at all.

Choose a large space: Secular growth and large disruption allows a good team with the right opportunity to make it big.

Perspective is worth 35 IQ points: When you look at a problem, get to the point where you really have clarity. "It's been milestones to getting to clearer perspectives," he said.

Quick wins: Figure out the one proof point that will give you validation. Build momentum. It’ll be key to getting confidence from employees and investors.

Focus: ReachLocal focused on that one thing that was most important. They kept thinking about the product. "I didn’t care about distribution," Zorik said. When the product was finished, only then did the team begin focusing on distribution. "There’s a lot of things to do, but there’s always one thing that has to be most important."

Evolve: Embrace that pivot. ReachLocal started off as a self-service platform. Turned out they had to evolve into a full-service, feet-on-the-street company. Pivoting is part of the entrepreneurial journey.

Momentum: How do you know when things are on the right track? When things work. It’s orders of magnitude better.

Grow: The first instinct investors have is when the startup gets some success, replace the "younger guy," said Zorik, who thought that by the time the company hit 60 employees, he'd be out. Now the company has 1500 people. "What we learned is that it’s not rocket science," he said. "Everyone has the capability of doing it. [And because innovation happens so quickly these days], you have to be more entrepreneurial and less of a manager when the company does scale."


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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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