Sharon Rowlands Signals New Direction for’s hiring of Sharon Rowlands as its new CEO signals new owner Siris Capital means to bring substantial changes to the Florida-based website builder. Rowlands is known as a turnaround CEO. She will replace the retiring David Brown at the end of this month.

In 2014, Rowlands took over as CEO of ReachLocal (which was later acquired by Gannett in 2016) and then became President of USA Network Marketing Solutions in 2017, while continuing her role at ReachLocal. She is also a former member of the LSA board of directors.

Rowlands previously helmed other media and technology companies, including Allegrity and Penton Media. Both roles involved either restructuring or repositioning the businesses.

Rowlands will join just three months after the company was acquired by Siris Capital for $2 billion and taken private. offers website design and online marketing services for small businesses.

As we noted in our post this week about the Top 10 SMB Technology Stories of 2018 (the acquisition is No. 5), while the acquisition price was a premium on’s most recent share price, other lenses provide different views of the transaction.

“While we wondered about the high valuation of Service Titan — $660,000 per subscriber — the transaction offered another data point, $588 per subscriber. With a reported 3.4 million customers, Web’s transaction demonstrated that purely pursuing customer acquisition at any price does not lead naturally to an attractive exit. While early shareholders may have done well with this deal, the per customer valuations hints at some softness in’s business model.”

Rowlands earned high marks from colleagues and partners for her management of Reach Local, in particular for placing a greater emphasis on customer experience. She has a big opportunity to improve how small-business customers perceive The company has consistently earned low marks on Alignable’s Small Business Trust Index, an NPS-style measurement of how small businesses view the brands that serve them.

Here are a few questions we have about what is ahead for under Rowlands.

  1. Will she impose a major change in’s strategic direction? For example, will she shed products and add new ones, change their target market or curtail/accelerate international expansion?
  2. Will we soon see talent from Gannett migrate to
  3. What will success look like for and for Rowlands?

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