The Localogy Annual Watch List (and We Don’t Mean What to Stream Next)

Here’s a list of companies we’re going to be watching closely at Localogy in 2021. This year has the advantage of a very low bar to clear to be a better year than the last one. 

To get ourselves organized to cover all things local in 2021, we compiled a list of companies we will be watching closely in 2021. But we’re not just giving you the list. We’re also telling you why we will be watching them. 

Our list, arranged alphabetically, runs the gamut of categories Localogy covers. We include small business SaaS, device makers, fintechs, martechs, investors and consolidators, search engines, social media platforms, last mile logistics solutions, and more. The common thread is we believe each company on this list will matter within the local arena in some meaningful way in 2021.

And while this goes without saying, we will say it anyway. There are many companies not on this list that should be. And it’s inevitable that companies we are not thinking about today will find a prominent spot on our radar during the course of the year, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. This list represents companies at the top of our minds as we enter this new year. 

Our questions to you are the following. Will you be watching the same list? And if not what companies would you add to the list? We’d love to hear what you think. 

Afterpay

“Buy now, pay later” platforms like Afterpay had a nice COVID bump in 2020. We think there may be more of a long-term play in this modern version of layaway, as younger consumers signal a more wary attitude toward credit and debt.

Will Retailers Embrace Buy Now, Pay Later?

Amazon

Because, well, it’s Amazon. Anything they do matters. Two things we will be watching for is what new business(es) it will enter in 2021 and how its raging ad business will extract money from local. 

Apple

Like everyone, we are eager to see the device leader turn its sights on offering consumers a search engine alternative to Google. Will it really happen?

Bill.com

With its market cap rising 270 percent in 2020, there are high expectations for Bill.com to become a household brand among small businesses. Can they?

Bill.com’s Bland Name Belies Its Dazzling KPIs

DocuSign

The pandemic accelerated DocuSign’s business model. We’re eager to see if it gets acquired or expands its role among small business owners. 

DoorDash

How much will DoorDash’s post-pandemic performance tell us about delivery trends going forward? Rocketship or sinking ship? 

The DoorDash IPO: Darling or Dud?

DuckDuckGo

Does DDG’s late-year traffic surge signal it should be taken seriously as a search alternative? (See Neeva.)

EverCommerce and Vista Equity 

These private equity acts continue to ramp up their assets by acquiring interesting pieces of the local commerce puzzle. What does the end game look like? Is it more scale, IPO, lifestyle operations?

Facebook

With millions of small businesses spending billions of dollars on its platform, we’re always going to pay attention to what Facebook does. 

Google

As Google keeps consuming much of the oxygen in local, will we see a consortium of competitors make a play? And how, if at all, will the anti-trust suits impact Google My Business? And what will be the long-term impact of Local Services ads?

GoSite 

VCs have been rushing to fund this “all in one” mobile-centric SMB SaaS solution. Can GoSite deliver big results for its customers and their customer’s customers?

With A Fresh $40 Million in Hand, It’s Go Time for GoSite

Gusto

Can Gusto scale its sales sufficiently to make a serious play for dominance in the $100 plus billion dollar payroll space?

Home Advisor/Angie’s List

Consumers are pouring billions into their homes as the pandemic draws our attention to every faded wall and outdated bathroom. Not to mention the much needed home office upgrades. Will homeowners be able to rely on HomeAdvisor/Angie’s for referrals in a market where demand could well exceed supply?

Mastercard

How will Mastercard leverage its strong pandemic efforts in 2020 to further help small businesses modernize in 2021?

Neeva

Will Neeva emerge from beta as a serious, privacy-friendly competitor to Google? We’ve gotten a sneak peek and the product is elegant and a pleasure to use. But is it enough?

Does the World Need a ‘Different Way to Search’?

Neighborly

So another thing we wonder for 2021 is how many independent home service providers will throw in the towel and join Neighborly to leverage the benefits of being part of the Neighborly network? The franchise company’s CEO made a pretty good case for being a franchise business vs being an independent small business owner when he spoke at Thryv Connect. 

At Thryv Connect: Neighborly’s Mike Bidwell on Franchise Success

Shopify

Will Shopify continue to keep executives at Amazon up at night during 2021? And what will be on its own shopping list this year? Or, who’s shopping lists is it on? Finally, will there be a post-pandemic eCommerce pullback among small businesses and their consumers?

Signpost/Birdeye/GatherUp/Broadly/GradeUs/Chatmeter/Podium, etc.

Collectively, these review and communications platforms have cobbled together thousands of small business customers. Which of these players will still be stand-alone operations this time next year? And which will have combined for scale and sustainability? 

Snap

With its unique demographic, we wonder how and when Snap will make a real play for local advertising budgets.

Localogy 20/20: The Intersection of Local & Social

Thryv

Thryv is now listed as a public company. What we’re eager to see this year is how Thryv navigates the valuation differentials between its marketing services and SaaS operations. Perhaps that sound we hear is the company splitting into two businesses?

TikTok 

The short video platform seems to have survived its threatened ban in the U.S. Will it now emerge as a true rival to the Google-Facebook online ad duopoly? 

Shopify Taps TikTok for eCommerce Amplification

T-Mobile

We know that T-Mobile’s head of small business is pushing the company hard to deliver something different for its SMB customers. Our question is, what makes them think they can win where others have failed?

Is Magenta the New Black for Small Businesses?

Twitter

We have a few questions about Twitter. One question is, will Twitter’s recent moves into audio be a game-changer for the under-monetized microblogging platform? And while we are at it, we’d like to know if Twitter will go subscription in 2021, as investors like Prof. Galloway have urged?

Falling Ad Revenues Add Pressure for Twitter Subscription Play

Uberall 

The location marketing company made a big move in North America by buying SweetIQ. So now comes the hard part. How quickly can it scale up its North America sales and customer success teams?

Vendasta

The Saskatoon-based SaaS commerce platform company has made a long journey from its roots in reputation management. Yet our gut sense is this will be a big year for the company to accelerate its growth.

Verizon

So Verizon has millions of small business owners as customers. But we wonder if Verizon ever expands its relationships with SMBs beyond delivering data and voice services?

WeWork

Will coworking have a resurgence as a perk for WFH-phobic knowledge workers? We think it will. After all, how many fun-loving twentysomething knowledge workers really want to sit at their dining room tables all day? Many don’t even have dining rooms. 

Is Co-working Looking at a Brighter 2021?

Wix

With its market value more than doubling, we’re eager to see how local veterans Paul Donlan and Ced Simpson assemble and manage a channel partner ecosystem. 

Overtok, Wix Partner to Drive Online Engagement for SMBs

Yelp

So this is what we are watching with Yelp this year. Can it rely on its self-service ad platform to win wallet and “heart” share among the millions of small businesses conflicted about Yelp’s original ratings and review platform?

YEXT 

We all know that Yext has made a big bet on its Answers product. What we’re eager to see is where and how Answers impacts local and small businesses in 2021. 

Zoom

Of course, everyone is counting the days until their last “family” Zoom meeting. Our question is, once the pandemic fades, will Zoom become an acquisition hunter or prey in 2021?

Charles Laughlin contributed to this article.

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