Angie’s List rival HomeAdvisor plans to hire 50 in Indy

Golden, Colorado-based HomeAdvisor plans to open an office in downtown Indianapolis in the coming months, positioning itself right in the back yard of  home-services rival Angie's List Inc.

HomeAdvisor officials said Monday that the company is looking add about 50 salespeople in roughly 10,000 square feet of leased space in the city's Wholesale District that offers the opportunity to expand. They declined to disclose the specific location before negotiations are finalized, but said they expect to open an office in February "not far from Banker's Life Fieldhouse."

The move comes as HomeAdvisor parent InterActiveCorp/IAC is looking to acquire Angie's List to merge it with HomeAdvisor. In an interview Monday, CEO Chris Terrill said IAC's acquisition quest has nothing to do with HomeAdvior's expansion plans, which have been in the works for about eight months.

"It's part of our bigger push to find really interesting, good mid-tier cities that we think have lots of talent, have great downtowns and people looking to work for interesting, fast-growing Internet companies," Terrill said.

Angie's List and HomeAdvisor have different business models, but both look to draw revenue by connecting homeowners to service providers, a market estimated to be worth more than $400 billion annually.

HomeAdvisor is free to consumers, but it charges service providers an annual subscription to be part of its screened network of professionals. Service providers need not pay anything to be seen on Angie's List, but many sign contracts with the company for the ability to advertise and sell pre-packaged service offerings to Angie's paying members.

Last month, IAC offered to buy Angie's List for $512 million, or $8.75 a share, to merge it with HomeAdvisor. Angie's spurned the offer, saying it "dramatically undervalues the company." Analysts expect IAC to sweeten its bid.

Terrill said HomeAdvisor's Indianapolis expansion plans are part of an ongoing strategy to attract and train salespeople in multiple U.S. offices. The company has already launched offices in Colorado Springs, New York and Kansas City. Indianapolis and downtown Denver are the next locations in that effort.

The initiative is marked by the company's offering of on-the-job training to sales associates. Terrill said company sales manager Tom Cheatham will lead the local office and about dozen employees initially.

HomeAdvisor's expected arrival comes as Angie's List has been restructuring its sales force, prompting some workers to leave the company. In September, Angie's List acknowledged it was shifting from an individual sales model to a team-based model, which means tasks such as prospecting clients and closing deals will be split among team members.

The transition started in the summer. At the end of June, the company had 1,026 employees in its sales division, according to the company. At the end of September it had 940.

Terrill said his company tested the team-based model and found it wasn't a good fit for the company. "Certainly, for anyone who doesn't like that model, there are opportunities within our model," he said.

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