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Tag Archives: Trade Me

Directories & Private Equity

Print-form directories have historically been a key cornerstone part of telecommunication businesses worldwide. This is changing, and what is occurring is a perfect example of Disruptive Innovation usurping a Sustaining Business Model.

History will show that the sale of Yellow Pages to a US-based private equity firm for NZD $2.24 billion was timed to near to perfection. At the time of sale in 2007, print directories were still a cornerstone aspect of telecommunication businesses. The Yellow Pages in particular had experienced constant revenue growth prior to the sale. And it’s also not hard to understand this, most people remember getting their White and Yellow pages in the late 1990s and early 2000s – and actually using them. Supplementing this, it was before the Global Financial Crisis, a period of cheap capital, in particular for private equity firms.

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Yellow Pages vs Trade Me

Following the 70% sale of the Sensis directories business from Telstra (Australia) to a US based private equity firm, Platinum Equity for A$454 million – blog post to come later – we thought we would illustrate the significant differences between NZ’s largest directories business vs NZ’s largest online auction/e-commerce website.

The following two graphs highlights the compelling difference comparing Yellow Pages (a largely print-based business) to Trade Me (a 100% online business). The results below show the impact technology has had on each company over the course of the last seven years:

Yellow Pages vs Trade Me - Revenue

Yellow Pages vs Trade Me - EBITDA

Note: the two data points (we are only showing the 2007 and 2013 numbers) for both Yellow Pages and Trade Me are from the financial years 2007 and 2013.