Angie's List executive Towns leaves after dozen years with company

April 19, 2017
(IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

Shelley Towns, a former journalist who helped create a formidable technology team at Angie's List Inc., has left the home-services-review provider.

Towns, formerly senior vice president of product, left Angie's List on April 7, she confirmed to IBJ on Tuesday, ending a 12-year run at the Indianapolis-based company. Her position, which entailed orchestrating a 100-plus-person team that conceives and deploys software features, was created for her in December 2014.

Towns, 38, said she's taking a couple of months off before deciding what she wants to do next. She said she started thinking about leaving late last year, informed some senior Angie's officials earlier this year and left on good terms.

"I've had a ton of awesome experiences [at Angie's], but for me personally, to take my career to the next level, I need to be successful at a new company and just challenge myself and step outside my comfort zone a little bit," she said in a phone interview.

"Angie's List had become a comfort zone for me."

Angie's List declined to comment about Towns' tenure and departure, as well as the fate of the position she's leaving.

The Indiana University alumna joined Angie’s List in 2005 as a staff writer, took over search-engine optimization, or SEO, in 2009 and became vice president of product in 2013. The following year the word “senior” was added to her title, giving her a direct line of reportage to CEO Bill Oesterle. 

The company did not have an official “product” team prior to Towns, and she ignited its push to hire product managers, user-experience designers and other related professions.

Towns has burnished a local reputation as a well-connected, straight-shooting business executive, as well as an ardent supporter of Indianapolis' technology ecosystem. The 2015 IBJ Forty Under Forty recipient served on TechPoint's board for three years and was named one of IBJ's Women of Influence in 2016.

Speaking about her role at Angie's List, former CEO Bill Oesterle told IBJ in 2015 that, "She's trained to interact with people, to diagnose what they're trying to say, what they really need. And she's fearless about asking questions, which turns out is phenomenally powerful."

Towns said she's ultimately interested in running her own company, but not quite yet.

"There's a lot of good stuff going on in town; a lot of companies are scaling. And my hope is that I can find a good fit that allows me to leverage a lot of the learnings that I've had at Angie's List and apply them to another company that's growing."

Towns' exit comes amid an ongoing corporate turnaround that has yet to spark investor enthusiasm—as well as the prospect of the company selling itself. Angie's List said last fall it's exploring "strategic alternatives," and the company's stock is about 20 percent below the $7 mark it hovered around last July when it lowered its 20-year-old paywall.

Angie's stock closed Tuesday at $5.61 per share. It closed at $5.21 on CEO Scott Durchslag's first day in September 2015.


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