The website builder company Duda has raised $50 million in a Series D round. This latest raise, led by Claridge IL, brings Duda’s total fundraising since its launch in 2009 to $100 million. Also joining the round are existing Duda investors Susquehanna Growth Equity and Vintage Investment Partners.
Claridge IL is an Israeli firm focused on making growth investments in innovative technology-driven companies. The firm is a partnership among Claridge Inc., Canada’s Stephen R. Bronfman Family Office, and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ).
Duda plans to use the funds to improve its platform and to invest in sales and marketing.
Same Plan, Just Bigger and Better
Earlier today we caught up with Duda Co-founder and CEO Itai Sadan to ask him a few questions about the raise. We were particularly interested in whether the fresh capital signals a change in direction for the U.S.-Israeli company.
In His Own Words
For the TL/DR crowd, here’s the audio of today’s conversation with Itai.
Itai made it clear in our discussion that while Duda may add some adjacent products to its platform (he wouldn’t say which), it remains committed to its focused approach on being the best website builder for agencies and SaaS companies. Don’t expect Duda to add a CRM to its stack any time soon. That’s what the app marketplace is for, Itai insists.
Staying ahead of the curve as a site-builder requires continuous innovation. And Itai continues to insist that becoming spread too thin with product extensions could be fatal.
“The risk in the web presence space is if you take your eyes off the ball,” Itai said. “Websites is a world of design. It’s a world of trends. It’s about video backgrounds, social network integration, and so on. The moment that you stop investing there, your platform becomes [outdated].”
One thing Itai made clear is that Duda is fully committed to eCommerce. Online stores now account for 20% of Duda’s revenues. As occurred with others, eCommerce grew dramatically as a share of Duda’s revenue during the pandemic.
“We definitely want to double down on eCommerce,” Itai said.
Duda v. WordPress
We also asked Itai about Duda’s competitive set. it’s not Wix or Squarespace. Itai sees these as DIY small business platforms, while Duda is more of a designer’s platform. Duda has aimed its crosshairs squarely at WordPress. Itai did praise Automattic’s site builder. But he also contends that WordPress is often too much platform for what a website-building task requires. It’s about using the right tool for the task.
“Sometimes when you have to build a really super pixel-perfect with websites tied to databases, and you’re going to have developers on your staff building it. And you’re going to be charging tens of thousands of dollars for it. WordPress is the right tool,” Itai said. “But I think 90% of the websites out there for small businesses don’t have those needs…So you could do it much more efficiently, much more effectively with a tool like Duda in half the time.”
Sticking to Agencies and SaaS
And finally, Itai remains committed to Duda’s channel strategy. The company is focused on being a go-to platform for agencies and graphic designers. And on providing SaaS platforms with a site builder option (via APIs). Duda isn’t showing much interest in MSPs, fintechs, or other channels just yet.
“I think that just those by themselves provide a huge opportunity. There are more than 30 million web professionals out there. You know, agencies, web designers. So that’s huge,” Itai said.
“And every other week, I’m seeing another SaaS platform pop up. A SaaS platform for roofers. A SaaS platform for HVAC installers. Or one for dentists. So we think that’s a super exciting space. A lot of these platforms want to integrate a website builder in order to offer sites pre-populated with their customers’ data. And Duda is really uniquely situated to provide a great solution to these SaaS platforms. And it’s a very exciting space. Plus it’s a space that’s growing really, really quickly.”