Angie's List: Ratings Pioneer Turns 20
The Inside the Case video that accompanies this case includes teaching tips and insight from the author (available to registered educators only). In 1995, before people "googled" or "yelped," Angela Hicks (HBS, 2000) was establishing her Angie's List as a pioneer in the accumulation and dissemination of consumer rating information. Hicks focused on the home repair and maintenance market and, as she put it, "particularly on high cost of failure situations where good information on potential service providers is correspondingly of high value." Angie's List had a paid subscription model as it charged "members" for access to the information they collectively provided on service providers. More recently, companies such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google have started offering free access to their reviews while relying totally on site advertising and service provider fees for their revenues. In 2015, Angie's List collected close to $68 million in membership fees. In January 2016, with recent declines in the growth rate of member numbers, Angie's List has to decide if it was time to drop the "paid subscription for all" model and introduce a free version of its service to its product line.