WeWork acquires Conductor
WeWork acquires Conductor putting their competitors in a great position to be next.
The office space extraordinaires at WeWork announced that they acquired SEO and Content marketing technology startup, Conductor. Conductor is a software platform that allows companies to track keyword and content performance. WeWork is ready to go from helping companies manage presence and culture to helping with a whole lot more. They started with startups and small businesses but have since welcomed hundreds of large corporations, like General Electric (GE), Mastercard, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Samsung, into its network. Accounting for 25 percent of current customers, they’re classified as Enterprise members and the fastest growing part of WeWork’s business. Conductor will continue to operate as an independent business with its own clients and leadership as it builds marketing packages for WeWork’s Enterprise members, made of both their current services and new offerings. Clearly, WeWork is expanding their offering to include a broad portfolio of resources to help startups and established businesses reach their potential. They’ve recently acquired events startup MeetUp and coding education platform Flatiron School too. It seemed crazy at first, but makes a lot of sense that the company that helped businesses manage their physical presences wants to do the same for their digital one.
Why WeWork acquiring Conductor matters to the SEO and Content Marketing industry
Conductor’s shift from focusing on keywords to focusing on showing brands how personas engage with web content has helped distinguish them from competitors in the space. This positions them to integrate easier with the influencer / audience development space that is symbiotic to search and content marketing.
Example Conductor dashboard showing persona’s mapped to website actions.
Normally the SEO and Content Marketing industry is overlooked in the news because it’s as exciting as watching snails wrestle. Our normal thrill is waiting for the latest Google algorithm update so we can report it to the world and our executive teams, ride Google’s wave for our 15 seconds of fame and then return to our bleak world of Excel spread sheets.
However in the past few years that has changed.
Recently we had:
- Yext IPO: Yext a local SEO tool IPOed and is now worth over $1 billion. That put our boring, nerdy SEO industry on the Wall Street map with the big money players. What’s great is if you know anything about local SEO and how to vet a local SEO platform provider you would know that Yext is not the best. This means that there is room for other local SEO software products to earn some real estate on the street.
- BrightEdge vs Searchmetrics: Patent wars led to major court battles between BrightEdge and Searchmetrics who are two of Conductor’s main competitors. This was an extreemly exciting moment for us SEOs because finally some real tech company beef / espionage happened in our industry. Conductor opened up their patents to the public in response. How noble! Searchmetrics won the court battle but I’m sure this will only make the rivalry more interesting.
- Mattress Wars: Fast Company wrote an article on affiliates using SEO in the “bed in a box” mattress industry wars. The article read like a spy novel and it brought me back to my black hat SEO/ affiliate marketing days where affiliate marketing funded my fledgling video production startup which I ran during college out of my moms house. This article caught the eye of the C-suite in many organizations especially the advertising agencies.
- Search in Big Brand Campaigns: House hold brands like McDonalds and Burger King are experimenting with search. McDonald launched a campaign that used TV to ask people to search for ” That Place Where Coke Taste so Good“. This naturally increased searches on the term and led to a YouTube page that gave discounts on hamburgers. This is exciting because brands usually ignore search but McDonalds and Coke are innovating in the field.
- The Rise of Voice Search: The growth of Amazon Echo sales and people using voice assisted devices as led to intense interest and salvation over voice search. SEOs have been doing voice search for a long time by creating content to own Google’s answer boxes. However most people only cared about voice search when shiny Alexa skills came about. If you are just using Alexa skills or Google Actions to drive voice search then you are failing your clients. Voice search once again have put SEOs back into the spotlight because they know how to leverage voice and understand that Alexa skills are only part of the puzzle. Check out these amazing voice search statistics .
- WeWork Acquires Conductor: Now we get to share in the joy of WeWork’s acquisition of Conductor.
All of this excitement has the world and our executive teams coming to us and taking us seriously as money makers, innovators and the force to be reckoned with that we are. Now SEO and Content marketing professionals have blossomed from ugly ducklings to golden gooses and are the center of an exciting novela like Betty la Fea.
WeWork’s acquisition of Conductor is great for SEO, Content Marketing and influencer platforms like Buzz Sumo, NewsCred, Contently, Brightedge, SearchMetrics, Moz and Rand Fiskin’s new influencer intelligence venture Sparktoro.
Here is how SEO and Content Marketing experts feel about the deal
When I asked Rand Fishkin how he felt about WeWork acquiring Conductor he said, “I think it’s a great outcome for Conductor. WeWork’s network and brand are powerful, and I imagine that Conductor’s reach in the enterprise may be of interest to WeWork, too. That said, it’s not the most obvious transaction, and I suspect there are strategic and/or team reasons for this acquisition that aren’t immediately transparent. I know Seth to be a smart guy, and WeWork to be a picky acquirer, so my guess is there’s some behind-the-scenes logic that made this deal a good fit, but that we might now know about for a while yet to come.”
Rand continued, “For SEO and content marketing, this is definitely a boost to the industry’s visibility and value, at least from the M&A and investment perspective. Lots of startups seeking funding in the space will be pointing to this deal as an example of how there’s more varied market interest than investors/boards may have previously been considering. For influencer and audience development, I’m not sure there’s a direct line to be drawn. Other transactions (like Buzzsumo’s sale to Brandwatch) are likely more relevant. But certainly, as these fields overlap and bolster content marketing, there’s some reason to at least be hopeful. Anytime a unicorn (like WeWork) makes a transactional move like this, there’s a halo effect on the space.”
Brian Honigman CEO of Honigman Media a content marketing consultancy says, “WeWork buying Conductor highlights how important it is for an organization, especially a new company, to invest in their brand and marketing themselves the right way. There’s lots of noise in the marketing industry and it’s important to work with partners that are experienced, know how to position a company amongst competitors and can help an organization prioritize where they spend time and energy with marketing. This will only help WeWork further position itself as a company able to help new companies set themselves up for success, whether acting as their first office or leading the conversation in their perspective industry.”
Let’s face it SEO and Content Marketing usually get deprioritized in many companies. This gets better or worse depending on the capacity your leadership has in their ability to understand the value that these two disciplines offer and why they are key to business success. Some companies say they are investing in SEO and hire one person who they then ignore. While innovative companies like TripAdvisor, Nerd Wallet, Google, Air BNB and Facebook truly invest and have used SEO and Content Marketing to disrupt their respective industries. This has led to an increase investment in both SEO and Content Marketing and a drought in being able to hire professionals with these skills.
WeWork’s acquisition of Conductor shows that innovative companies truly understand the value of our industry and are willing to invest in it to help them and their clients grow. SEO will never die because Conductor’s acquisition is yet another tide that will rise all ships in the industry.
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Liz Smith contributed to this article.