Thryv Holdings, the Dallas-based company that owns the Yellow Pages, began trading shares of its common stock on the Nasdaq on Thursday, hoping to attract investors with its growth into a small-business-management platform.
Perhaps you haven’t opened or even seen a physical Yellow Pages book in years, but you’ve certainly seen the online Yellow Pages appear in search engine results. That evolution of the legacy Yellow Pages print product to a digital one has been the focus of Thryv chairman and CEO Joe Walsh and his team.
For five years, the company also has been building out an all-in-one business-management platform, called Thryv, that specifically caters to small- and mid-sized businesses. Think Salesforce, but for companies with two to 50 employees.
“We have the Yellow Pages, and the Yellow Pages come with hundreds and hundreds of thousands of mom-and-pop small businesses,” Walsh said. “So we built something that was appropriate for them.”
Grown through a series of mergers and acquisitions, Thryv Holdings now operates in 48 states. In 2014, Thryv was called DexMedia and was a conglomerate of Yellow Pages companies that previously had been fragmented among owners such as Verizon and AT&T. It acquired YP Holdings — the owner of YP.com — from AT&T in 2017.
Thryv recorded $1.3 billion in revenue and $452 million in pre-tax profit for the 12-month period that ended in June. Headquartered in the old Braniff International Airways HQ near DFW Airport, Thryv employs more than 2,400 people and serves 360,000 customers. About half of its staff works in the Dallas area, including human resources, sales and information technology teams.
Already a mature company, Thryv opted to go back to the trading floor through a direct listing under the ticker symbol THRY. Its shares had a brutal first day, opening at $14 and dropping nearly 21% to close at $11.07. Shares rose to $11.50 in after-hours trading.
Thryv decided it was time to go public because it’s seeking investment in a growing company, which Walsh described as a “hidden gem.”
“The investment thesis is changing,” he said. “Those [investors] that are scouring … will find this hundred-plus-billion-dollar fully scaled, really robust, already profitable platform inside of the former Yellow Pages company.”
Suburban and rural Americans ages 55 and over still use the Yellow Pages quite a bit for their purchasing needs, according to the company.
“They tend to have families, they tend to have a lot of buying needs, and they tend to have a lot of money,” Walsh told investors recently.
There were over 3.8 billion references to the physical, printed Yellow Pages last year, according to Thryv. Its online Yellow Pages product sees 35 million visits a month.
Still, Thryv’s marketing services business, which includes the Yellow Pages, is a declining portion of its revenue. Print and digital Yellow Pages accounted for about 67% of its revenue over the last 12 months.
The company’s subscription software platform and namesake, Thryv, is growing. As the COVID-19 pandemic forces small businesses to quickly digitize operations, Thryv is seeing “tremendous additional demand” for its platform, Walsh said.
The software business, which now boasts 44,000 subscribers, is projected by the company to overtake its marketing services unit and eventually exceed $500 million in annual revenue.
“The focus now is really helping [small businesses] modernize … [with] a digital platform that will allow them to thrive in this new world that we’re in,” Walsh said. “Now is really a great time for us to emerge as a public company and take that next step.”