Just over eight weeks ago I published a very positive review of OptiQly, a startup focused on helping book publishers analyze and optimize their marketing campaigns on Amazon’s platform. This week I received an email from the company confirming what had been recently reported in Publishers Lunch, but not yet confirmed: OptiQly’s assets have been acquired by Ingram. Ingram is shutting down the current platform on December 1st.
The backstory behind OptiQly’s quick change in its flight plan isn’t important: it’s easy to spin Ingram’s acquisition of the company as a validation of OptiQly’s core business proposition and equally easy to spin it as a rescue effort following an aborted takeoff. Ingram was an early investor in OptiQly and isn’t known for throwing good money after bad, so it looks like they still believe in the merits of OptiQly’s vision and team. Ingram hasn’t commented on the acquisition, so we don’t know for sure what their plans are for OptiQly, but the fact that they also hired several members of the OptiQly team, including Pete McCarthy is telling.
As I noted in my initial review, Pete’s marketing expertise was encoded in the OptiQly toolset. The fact that Ingram acquired OptiQly and hired Pete suggests that they are investing in bolstering their marketing services. It’s a smart move, but the fact that Ingram is shutting down the current platform suggests that going forward OptiQly’s tools will only be available to Ingram’s customers. OptiQly will live on, but won’t drive the broad change in how books are marketed that it once promised.
The news about OptiQly adds weight to a related issue that I’m hearing more and more about: book-focused startups are having trouble raising money and finding early-adopter support in the publishing community. I’ll be following up on this issue in separate post.