The head of the company which yesterday purchased liveBooks says they have started to “aggressively” hire back liveBooks staffers who had been laid off due to financial troubles, in order to “get back the level of customer service that [liveBooks] customers expect.” Timothy Chi, co-founder and CEO of WeddingWire, told PDN, “Our goal is that by the end of the week, we’ll be running full speed ahead across all aspects of the business.”
Yesterday Andy Patrick, CEO of liveBooks, which provides website management and other services to professional photographers, told PDN that customer service at the company had “not been good over the last few months,” after he laid off 20 percent of the workforce. He blamed the company’s financial problems on increased competition from companies offering free service and two acquisitions in the last year that “didn’t work out.”
Chi says WeddingWire’s technology teams will be working with liveBooks to update its website platforms. Chi says, “Specifically, we’re looking at HTML 5 and responsive design and some of these things that are important nowadays. It’s something that our technology team at WeddingWire has had experience in.” Currently, the standard website templates liveBooks offers run on Flash.
WeddingWire, which operates online marketplaces for vendors in the wedding and events industries, also provides the technology that powers the “local resources” sections of sites such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides.com and Weddingbee.com, where brides and wedding planners can search for photographers, videographers and other wedding vendors. The software suite WeddingWire provides to wedding and event customers includes business and e-commerce tools, such as a digital contract-signing feature and social media management. Last year the company purchased a small company that provides customer-relationship management (CRM) tools for wedding photographers. Chi says the head of that company has stayed on since its sale and adds, “We expect to have the same relationship with Andy and his team.”
Patrick told PDN that after he announced that liveBooks had been sold to WeddingWire, he received many calls from commercial photographers asking what WeddingWire is, and whether “powered by WeddingWire” would now appear on their websites. Chi says branding would remain the same. “We’re not wedding experts here,” says Chi. “We’re a technology company that builds tools and platforms to help connect people.”
Chi says he was first introduced to Patrick about six months ago, around the time that liveBooks hired an investment bank to sell the company. “Andy and I really connected and we share a passion for helping small businesses succeed online.” He says he was impressed with liveBooks, “its products and its customer base.”
Founded seven years ago, WeddingWire is backed by two private equity companies, Catalyst Investors and Spectrum Equity. Spectrum Equity’s portfolio includes Animoto, NetQuote and SurveyMonkey. Companies Catalyst has previously acquired include Advantage Business Media, MINDBODY and Aspire Media.