The classifieds section of the paper was once the place to go if you wanted to advertise your business or search for jobs over your morning coffee. Over the last few years, startups have emerged taking various sections of the old classifieds pages online and, in turn, taking millions in profits away from the newspaper business.
But the newspapers are now getting back in, with both News Corp and Fairfax today each acquiring a 25 percent stake in a startup. News Corp Australia has acquired a 25 percent stake in hipages, Australia’s largest online platform for finding and hiring tradespeople, while Fairfax has acquired a stake in neighbourhood social platform Nabo.
hipages, which works as a matchmaker between tradies and customers, first launched in 2004 and now helps over 65,000 tradespeople find work and gives access to $1.35 billion worth of jobs generated annually.
“We’re thrilled with the vote of confidence from News Corp Australia and look forward to working with our new strategic investors to continue to develop the platform, grow the hipages team, and accelerate marketing,” said the hipages Group cofounder, David Vitek.
The investment from News Corp will be used to accelerate growth, invest in product development and target customers and trades businesses through brand awareness.
Chief Executive Officer of News Corp Peter Tonagh said that the investment is part of a wider plan to develop and grow the Australian property services category.
“We look forward to working with the hipages team to realise further benefits for both our businesses in the property and home services category,” said Tonagh.
To rival News Corp’s new investment, Fairfax announced its investment in Nabo, joining Seven West Media and Reinventure as a major shareholders in the startup.
Nabo is a community based social network platform that connects residents to each other, local organisations and councils to discuss key issues in their neighbourhood. Since launching in 2014, the company has expanded their network to more than 5,800 suburbs Australia wide and has grown to 720 percent membership since January of this year.
“This is a compelling investment for Fairfax. The digital business strongly aligns with Fairfax’s long history of connecting communities via hundreds of newspapers and websites across rural, regional and metropolitan areas,” said Fairfax Media Managing Director of Australian Publishing Media, Allen Williams.
“We believe Nabo has potential in the Australian market and we look forward to working closely with the team to strengthen its offering and achieve its full potential,” said Williams.
The announcement from News Corp comes as no surprise, with the media giant keeping close tabs on the tech and startup ecosystem. As well as News Corp being a partner of Sydney coworking community Fishburners, it also has a head of innovation. Its Melbourne daily, The Herald Sun, last month held a hackathon where it gave developers access to its data to allow them to create innovative digital products.
Image: David Vitek, cofounder of the hipages Group and Adam Rigby, founder of Nabo, Source: Supplied