Marchex Mania on Mad Money!
Jim Cramer took a breather from pumping Marchex’s stock and on 3/7/06 gave some airtime to the often insightful Herb Greenberg. Herb was bearish on MCHX and made some of the same points I’ve made. He said that their core business isn’t growing, domain names are their one good asset (and in perpetual beta), the domains business is not a long term growth business, and that Marchex is a “manana story” – always promising growth tomorrow.
Apparently, Cramer is a buddy of Marchex CEO Russell Horowitz. On 3/2, he did a phone interview with Horowitz packed with softball questions. My favorite was when Cramer asked “Do you have any competition at all?” Russell responds “in some parts of our business, but nobody has the same combination of assets…” That is a lot like saying that no one has my fingerprint! Horowitz claims synergies between the businesses, but as one of my previous posts outlines, Marchex will not be able to monetize their own traffic better than Yahoo can so the synergies are limited.
Cramer is a smart guy and apparently a great trader. Marchex has been a great investment for intrepid longs but not since Cramer picked it. In this case, I think Cramer is wrong and Greenberg is right. To add some food for thought, I will highlight a list of competitors for Marchex’s sprawling mini-empire of sub-scale businesses. In most cases below, Marchex business is not even in the top 3 competitors!
Enhance (Tier 2) / GoClick (Tier 3) – Syndication Business
Tier 1: GOOG, YHOO
Tier 2: MIVA, LOOK, INSP, ASKJ, Kanoodle – see Miva’s disastrous earnings report!
Tier 3: INCX, EPilot, 7Search, BrainFox, GenieKnows
TrafficLeader – Outsourced Platform management
MIVA, LOOK, INCX and other smaller players
TrafficLeader – SEO and Search Engine Marketing management
Hundreds of companies – As a starting point, all the members of SEMPO (e.g. Efficient Frontier, Did-it, Bruce Clay, etc.)
Name Development – Subject Based Direct Navigation / Domains
Bookmarks, anyone with a branded URL or existing traffic, browser navigation, search engines
Pike Street – Locally focused direct navigation (zip codes and Yellow.com)
All yellow page players, GOOG, YHOO, INCX (Local.com), CitySearch, oodles of startups
Industry Brains – Publisher specific monetization
Direct: Adbrite, Google OASU, Federated Media, BlogAds
Indirect: Doubleclick, 24/7 Media, Yahoo Publisher Network
I own puts on Marchex’s stock.