Bulletin board for $2.7 billion: how Avito came to success

In the fall of 2015, online free bulletin board Avito was estimated at $2.7 billion, which means that now it can challebge the Russian Internet giants: VKontakte, Yandex and Mail.Ru Group. RBC investigated how Avito had come to success.
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In October Avito, founded in 2007 by Swedish entrepreneurs Jonas Nordlander and Filip Engelbert, it was valued at $ 2.7 billion. So it praised one of the shareholders, holding the South African Naspers, which reduces its stake in Mail.Ru Group in recent years. Naspers, as follows from the FAS, has increased its stake in Avito to 70% of spending for the purchase of securities of $ 1.2 billion. The big money for Russian Internet and huge for the company, EBITDA of the rate of which 70 in 2014 to more than times less October assess its value. What is it - the bubble inflated by investors, or only Russian "unicorn" in global competition?

Avito audience today reaches 25 million unique users - a platform is part of Russia's top-8, it is more popular social network Facebook, the main online retailer AliExpress, and all of its competitors. Avito Office, which occupies two floors in an expensive business center "White Gardens" near the metro station "Belorusskaya", designed in Scandinavian style inconspicuous. Top executives, including founders, sitting in general open-Space.

The Swedes are the backbone of the management team Avito: in addition to the founders of WVezia COO Christopher Norman, sales director Henning Stenhammar, Erik Dahlström Finnos responsible for general categories Avito business, and the head of the running in 2014, the portal Domofond.ru Eric Segerborg. During the nine years of work in Russia Nordlander and Engelbert did not learn Russian - only know basic words like "hello" and "thank you." With RBC, they did not want to meet.

Jonas Nordlander arrived in Russia in 2006 at the invitation of Mail.Ru founder Yuri Milner. Nordlander just sold Corporation eBay for $ 50 million his company, an online auction Tradera.com. Milner as he told RBC suggested Nordlander lead another his company, one of the oldest Russian online auctions "Molotok.ru,". Nordlander refused, but a visit to Russia became fatal for him.

Back home, Jonas began to meet with investors, discussing possible projects in Russia, but few people believed in them business in our country is associated with risk and corruption. But in 2007, Jonas was lucky: he met Philip Engelbert. He just invested in a Swedish holding Kontakt East Holding (KEH), in turn, invest in the purchase of the famous reference book "Yellow Pages." The first project partners, online auction Avitok.ru, great success was not as accustomed not online and the "Yellow Pages". Jonas and Philip did not despair and decided to do a new project - classified ads website.

At the time of the appearance Avito site in 2007 the Russian market of announcements, to put it mildly, it was not free. The heyday of experienced FM "Pronto-Moscow", who published a catalog of personal ads "Hand in Hand".

Earnings Avito

2.358 billion rubles. (58.9% *) - user fees

1.5 billion rubles. (34.8%) - Advertising

0.244 billion rubles. (5.7%) - revenues from the "Avito.Magazin"

0.015 billion rubles. (0.58%) - other

* Share in Avito revenue in 2014

Source: Avito AB reports (in the press service of the company did not confirm that it is correct)

In Russia came to international giants - OLX sites and Slando ads. In addition, in RuNet worked dozens of forums with sections under the code name "Flea market", where users can get rid of unnecessary things. Competition partners are not afraid, but the first dand Avito years worked without a coherent business model and investment brings no exhaust, admitted in an interview with "Business owner" Engelbert in 2013.

The first who invested in Avito, Swedish steel foundations Kinnevik and Vostok Nafta, previously owned KEH. According to "Vedomosti", in the first stage, they have invested $ 10 million Avito, receiving in return a majority stake (did not disclose the exact size of the hand). In December 2009, the audience Avito, according to LiveInternet data, was 3.4 million "uniques" (to compare, the audience Irr.ru site at the same time was about 3.8 million, Slando - 2,4 m). But recognition Avito behind: 29% knew what irr.ru, 26% - Slando and only 17% identify Avito (MASMI research on brand recognition in December 2009).

Attack through the TV

"How much is your mess?" - With this slogan in Moscow and St. Petersburg on the "First", TNT, STS and five TV channels in early 2010, launched an advertising campaign Avito, developed by Practica Agency (it also worked on all subsequent campaigns) . The second phase of the campaign took place in autumn 2010 and was even more ambitious: Avito expanded geogafiyu and formats, utilizing print media, outdoor advertising and radio.

In 2010 Nordlander and Engelbert spent on TV-promote your service of 116 million rubles., RBC counted for a large branch agency, ask them not to call. In Avito with this assessment does not agree, but did not provide other details. Already in April 2010, according to "to TNS Russia", Avito surpassed the longtime leader audience - "Hand in Hand":. Almost 6 million against 4.2 million for a total audience of 32.9 million Russian Internet advertising campaign in 16 times increased the number of page views (to 479 million a month, according to LiveInternet), 7 times increased the number of ads posted on the site (to 1.8 million), and brand awareness soared to 60% (MASMI data).

"They are investing is much more than they earn. We're focused on profits, "- lamented in a conversation with" Vedomosti "representative of the" Hand in Hand "Yaroslav Kozlov. In 2010 Avito revenue was only $ 1 million, says the founder, without disclosing other financial data. In 2011, the number of advertising Avito output on TV, in the press and on the radio has doubled, it follows from dnnyh «TNS Russia." Advertising expenses increased proportionally, up to 243 million rubles., Cites all the same marketing agency. In 2012, the Swedes, and all went broke.

"They do not know that hundreds of thousands of people willing to rent or buy their apartment right now, if they place ads on Avito.ru", - broadcast of all televisions country Rostislav Chait and his partners in the "Quartet". On the first federal TV campaign Avito, according to expert estimates, has spent 568 million rubles. (VAT) [Avito also does not confirm these figures - RBC], but at the end of 2012 the company's revenue has tripled - to $ 30 million, and the site Avito first entered the top ten most visited resources Runet, according to the «TNS Russia." As a startup has found so much money on advertising?

new money

At the time Engelbert Nordlander and turned to Oleg Tinkoff. The Swedes were ready to give 40% of the company for $ 20 million, said Tinkoff September 2015 on the advertising holding a conference Group M. «I was refused, and in fact could make a billion," - he lamented, referring to the latest deal with Naspers. He refused, and the founder of investment fund Almaz Capital Alesandr Galitsky. As he told the RBC site ads "do not fit" in the fund's portfolio: Avito - exclusively local project and Almaz invests in companies with a focus on the global market.

Investors still found again and not in Russia. In 2010 Avito received $ 26 million from one of its shareholders, Kinnevik fund, venture capital fund and Northzone Ventures. In 2012, the company invested $ 75 million in funds Baring Vostok and Accel Partners (in the round with Kinnevik was also involved $ 10 million). "The company was originally supermotivirovannaya, professional and very aggressive team under the leadership of Jonas and Philip", - he explained RBC decision the then senior partner of Baring Vostok Elena Ivashentseva. The loss did not bother fund, she said: "We are well aware of the economic business model of free classified ads and the importance of leadership in this market."

In 2013, at the Avito there is another major investor - Naspers, a longtime shareholder of Mail.Ru Group, has owned international online platforms Slando and OLX. Slightly more than 18% of the shares Avito Naspers paid $ 50 million and almost immediately began to build a giant in the field of online classified ads, joining Russia in a Avitorsii Slando and OLX. "To be profitable, you must be the only one - is the general strategy of ad sites Sales worldwide. Investors Avito understood this and allows the site to spend money on winning the audience ", - says the former head of the auction Molotok Igor Tarasenko. He recalls that Slando service, which also experimented with advertising on TV, could not resist the aggressive strategy Avito was just crushed. Therefore, Naspers and decided to infuse the project in a more powerful competitor, says Tarasenko.

"Every once in a niche leader, to lose this place is almost impossible", - said Nordlander Forbes magazine. Having goals, Avito weakened the onslaught: in 2013, the service has appeared on TV, press and outdoor advertising 16.9 thousand times, in 2014 - 48.7 thousand times (data «TNS Russia")... By comparison, federal advertising campaign in 2012, there were 82.5 thousand outlets.. In 2013 Avito recorded its first profit in the amount of 679 million rubles.

model experiments

Promoting Avito in mass Nordlander and Engelbert gathered audience, which consisted of 90% of ordinary people: a large,but not the audience is provided. But already in 2011 they began to attract more profitable customers - small and medium businesses. Now the structure Avito income on user fees account for about 59%, or 2.5 billion rubles., In the revenue for the year 2014. All proceeds Avito the AB, according to the audited financial statements Delloitte last year [in Avito press service did not confirm that it is correct], it amounted to 4.3 billion rubles.

We started with advertising options: the end of 2010 about half of the revenue the company received from advertising (the rest - on the promotion of ads that is their isolation from the masses or placed on a better position). In 2014 appeared Avito service for "Avito.Promo" advertising campaign, which allowed to choose a combination of different promotion tools. Three years ago the company began to develop the so-called vertical search ads - thematic sections, "Auto" and "Real Estate", "Employment" and "Services".

If the promotion of ads in the category, such as "Children toys" will cost the user in the 229-822 rub., The promotion in the "H categorymovable "- from 739 to 2.6 thousand rubles.. It is in the "verticals» Avito first began to introduce a fee for placing ads on the site (still users pay only for the promotion). In autumn 2014 there was paid placement of real estate advertisements in some regions, and this year the company announced the introduction of fees for the publication of announcements in seven sections - for example, "Work", "Services", "Animals". Only on paid advertisements Avito job can earn from 438 million to 1.4 billion rubles. per year, according to RBC estimates.

Last spring, the "Properties" section has been allocated in a separate project Domofond.ru - the joint venture, which is 80% owned by Avito and 20% - Korbitec ( «Daughter» Naspers). Now Domofond.ru already ranked in the top 3 most visited resource for real estate in Russia, second only to "Yandeks.Nedvizhimosti" and old players Cian.ru market (Similarweb statistics). The basis of success - proven method: the first half of «TNS Russia" has counted 98.6 thousand advertising Domofond brand outlets: life holds the first place among the websites of Runet for the costs of marketing, the priority over the TV.. According to the number ofyavleny Domofond.ru ahead Cian.ru - 3 million to 1 billion, but the ad "relayed" to the thematic section Avito.

Back in 2011, Avito introduced the option to create their own "stores" - a virtual shop window with information about the seller and his products. The annual publication "windows" is about 35 thousand. Rub. Now the service "shops" are almost 12 thousand. Companies, which by the end of 2014 brought Avito 244 million rbl., Or slightly less than 6% of total revenue. And in September 2015 Avito made its first ever purchase, purchasing logistics platform aggregator CheckOut, which allows deliver the goods across the country (the amount of the transaction were not disclosed). In the near future will begin to earn Avito to connect its partners stores to logistics platform. Now CheckOut cost of services ranges from 120 to 500 rubles., But the price tag may fall due to the volume of orders. Furthermore, in perspective delivery service can be offered for normal users.

And in July 2015 Avito launched in test mode contextual advertising. This option can be used even companies that are not representedand new listings - click for contextual ads a user takes on the advertiser's site. Now advertising is second in the overall structure Avito income (1.5 bln. Of 4.3 billion rubles. In 2014).

2015 Avito met the absolute leader in the Russian Internet in the category of "Goods and Services": the closest competitor - "Hand in Hand" - inferior to the size of the audience (5.2 million vs. 25 million) and the number of ads placed (about 7 million to 33 million).

Risks and billions

In October 2015 Naspers bought for $ 1.2 billion in shares of other investors - Kinnevik (31,7%), Northzone (about 5.9%) and Accel Partners (about 4.3%). The deal will allow the investor to make good money: a total investment by the Kinnevik amounted to about $ 52 million, and a share in Avito fund sold for $ 846 million Northzone Foundation emerged from Avito with multiplier 13x to the initial investment, receiving about $ 151 million for nine years, has calculated the publication Unquote. . Foundation Vostok New Ventures retained stake in 13,3%, Baring Vostok sold half its stake - from 4.4 to 8.8%. Part of the shares sold Nordlander and Engelbert - rooms they currently have about 10% of the shares, and the rest - from the managers of the company.

Is it worth $ 2.7 billion Avito? "At the end of the year Avito revenue of about $ 120 million with margins of more than 50%, - says the managing partner of TMT Investments Fund Artem Inyutin - so that the amount of the transaction is quite reasonable: the price is about 23, the company's revenue in 2015. In addition, the transaction price should be laid down for the purchase of premium market leader and a controlling stake. "

The fund Baring Vostok, known on the Russian Internet in the first place a very successful investment in "Yandex" has kept a stake in Avito, as it sees "great potential audience growth and monetization through expansion in breadth, on new directions and in depth, with eventually reaching the transactions in key categories, "- explains Elena Ivashentseva.

"Ad model on the Internet - a good cash generator. This model is in crisis is working well: secondary sales market is developing more rapidly than in normal times ", - said Inyutin. Agrees with him head of the "Pronto-Media" Nicholas Dadiani "Modern klassifaydov [service announcements] diversified monetization, which Boleresistant to crises than the Display. "

Nikolai Davidov of Gagarin Capital believes that the high score Avito associated with potential investors who see: Now online trade accounted for about 20% of the off-line real estate market, 30-40% of the road and about 20% - general goods and services, and in the long term term, the market could grow at least five-fold, he said. However, the partner of Data Insight analytical agency Fedor Virin believes that "drag" Russians in online Avito can except in the category of "Services". The rest of the sphere like real estate and cars, according Virin already "been living only on the Web," and the inflow of new customers is only possible by dragging the competition.

Many investors surveyed by RBC indicate Avito fixation on the Russian market as a risk factor. The company is valuable only in Russia, as the main asset of the site - its audience, says partner of Runa Capital Fund Dmitry Chikhachev. "In any other country, they would have to build a business from scratch. At the same time Russian startups, initially configured only on the local market, there are always problemss with access to other countries ", - says Chikhachev. As an example, he cites the "Yandex", which was released in Turkey in late 2011, but in the third quarter of 2015 the share of the Russian search engine "Yandex" on the Turkish market accounted for only 7%.

Naspers invested in Avito in 2013, and it was not the first investment of the group in Russia. In 2007, Naspers for $ 165 million bought 30% of the Russian company Port.ru, owned portal Mail.ru (while still omitting the Group). The sellers then become DST Yuri Milner and partners and Tiger Global Management Fund. In the process of Mail.Ru Group Naspers has become one of the largest shareholders of the holding. In November 2015, the group owned 27.6% stake in Mail.Ru Group worth about $ 1.1 billion. In the summer of 2015 Naspers announced the conversion of its shares Mail.Ru Group in the GDR, which may indicate the group's intention to sell them in the market.

Naspers operates in 130 countries, the Group's revenue in 2015 fiscal year amounted to 73.1 billion rand ($ 5.3 billion), net profit - 1.6 billion rand ($ 110 million).

The fund Vostok Nafta in the annual report Avito compared with similar services in other countries of the world in terms of "revenue per active user site". The leader of the ranking was the British Property website Rightmove, the average user is brought to the company in 2013, $ 60.5. Avito located on the penultimate position, behind competitors from Finland (FINN.no), New Zealand (Trade Me), Sweden (Blocket.se), France (Leboncoin.fr) and the US (Craigslist). Average revenue per user in Avito in 2014 amounted to $ 2.8, so the company relies on the so-b2b sector growth.

Nordlander and Engelbert already tried to bring Avito the international market. In 2010, the company opened Torg.ua site in the Ukrainian market, but in May this year, the site was sold to a group owned by Naspers MIH Allegro (now it OLX). Avito tried to go to Morocco and Egypt, however, and then success is not achieved. In 2013, the company transferred its area Avito.ma in the joint venture with the Swedish media group Schibsted. The joint venture Avito received 48%, but sold its stake for $ 13.5 million this year, the Egyptian Bekam.com fate is unknown:. Was established in December 2012 the portal page on Facebook last updated in October 2013, the site site is unavailable.

If the Swedish team did not manage to find a way to conquering the global in the near futureynka, there is another way for extensive growth. Founders Avito that year as if in passing mention of a possible IPO. In September, announcing a deal with the CheckOut, Nordlander assured that "the conditions of the internal control and reporting in the company comply with the standards for entering the large market." British car klassifayd Autotrader for listing on the London Stock Exchange in March 2015 was estimated at $ 3.5 billion (multiplier to 17x EBITDA for 2014). Company Scout24, developmental portal Immobilienscout24.de estate investors in October at an exit on a stock exchange valued at $ 3.6 billion (almost 37h EBITDA for 2014).

Company Nordlander and Engelbert in October was estimated at 70's EBITDA for 2014. However, even in the case of revaluation of one of the investors is not affected: all risks assumed Naspers, most other investors have already earned Avito. How to make money and Nordlander with Engelbert, is the only foreigners who managed to create a successful company in the Russian Internet.