Australian-owned coupon giant RetailMeNot sold to US deals marketplace

One of Australia’s hidden online success stories, coupon site RetailMeNot, has been acquired by US deals marketplace WhaleShark Media for an undisclosed amount.

RetailMeNot is a subsidiary of Melbourne-based website developer Stateless Systems, owned by Guy King and Bevan Clarke.

While the site is based in Melbourne, its main target market is the United States, where it offers discount coupons for more than 70,000.

RetailMeNot has over 95 million unique visitors a year and is now the biggest coupon site in the world.

The site has been up and running since 2007 and its traffic continues to grow explosively – thanks in no small part to the economic conditions in the US. When US stores held their traditional post-Thanksgiving sales last week (an event known as Black Friday), RetailMeNot’s traffic surged 33% on the previous year.

Guy King told SmartCompany this morning that WhaleShark, which was founded in November 2009 with the express purpose of acquiring up deal and coupons sites, has been looking at RetailMeNot for some time.

“I think they’ve had their eye on us for quite awhile, since they first saw us really.

“We’ve been going through the [acquisition] process for about three months now. It’s a good fit with WhaleShark. They’ve got experience in the space and… they have purchased a few smaller coupon websites, so they are looking for economies of scale.”

King expects synergies to flow between RetailMeNot and WhaleShark’s other coupon sites, which include Deals2Buy and CouponShare.

“WhaleShark does some things well and some things not so well. RetailMeNot is very strong in organic search, but their sites are much better at turning a buck from paid search, which we have struggled to do. So there is a good opportunity to share knowledge across the sites.”

However, King and Clarke will take a step back from the day-to-day operations of RetailMeNot, with the business set to move its headquarters from Melbourne to the United States.

A WhaleShark team is currently in Melbourne working on this transition, although Clarke and King will continue to provide strategic advice to guide the development of the site.

“They are keen to tap our brains for everything we have learned in the last four years and how we’ve got to this position.”

Clarke and King will now have more time to focus on other projects under the Stateless Systems banner. He says one such site, which is focused on crowd funding, will be launched in the next few weeks.

“We’re always working away on something.”

The deal was financed by three venture capital firms: firms Austin Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners (NVP) and Adams Street Partners.

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