My new column is live in The Drum:
The VC industry resembles an “insane game of high-stakes craps in a Bond film, only with nerds”.
So writes Rand Fishkin, the controversial founder and former chief executive of SEO software platform Moz, in a new memoir that is one part an educational textbook on the high-tech startup world and one part a behind-the-scenes explanation of his time at – and eventual fall from – the company.
Fishkin’s book, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World, followed his long-expected departure from Moz earlier this year. The memoir – along with the recent announcement of his new martech company, SparkToro – heralds a new era in the niche but important search industry.
Moz, which was once one of the most-recognised brands in the digital marketing software world, is now fighting numerous global competitors that had entered the market and overtaken the company during Fishkin’s tenure.
“Just a few years ago, there was one major small business SEO platform player with Moz and a few enterprise platforms like Conductor and BrightEdge,” John Doherty, a former Moz associate while he was with the UK digital agency Distilled, said.
“Now, we have Moz, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and a multitude of more tools that are chasing each other for feature parity,” Doherty, now the founder of Credo, a service that connects businesses with digital marketers, continued. “The old days of hacking together tools because nothing else existed are gone, and we’re playing in a mature ecosystem that makes the industry more accessible.”
For this column, I interviewed Fishkin and contacted numerous former employees of Moz from various departments. Those who were critical of Fishkin and Moz declined to comment on the record. Those who were positive did. Moz’s current chief executive, Sarah Bird, acknowledged my inquiries but did not respond further. For more background on organic search itself, I invite you to read this prior column.