Tech Investments Still Flowing into Web Design as Duda Announces $25m Round

The investment will allow Duda to aggressively target digital agency prospects looking to offer web development as a service

On the strength of their solid user base of more than 6,000 digital agencies and web professionals, Duda recently announced a $25 million growth equity investment from private equity firm Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE).

The investment will allow Duda to aggressively target digital agency prospects looking to offer web development as a service.

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Duda appears to be a good fit with SGE’s priority of investing in expansion stage tech-enabled businesses. “While the Susquehanna team and I were initially impressed with the product, it wasn’t until we started speaking with customers that we realized just how powerful the platform is for the thousands of web professionals it serves,” said SGE investor Noa Wolfson in a press release.

“Time and again, customers told us that Duda catalyzed the growth of their agencies. The ability to have all site building and client management needs on a centralized, and more importantly, secure, platform saves web professionals time and money.”

This investment round brings Duda’s total capital raised to $50 million, which serves to spotlight the dramatic shift in how websites are built and managed.

WordPress remains the market leader, despite its lack of native support for features that make it easy for teams to manage multiple sites, and despite widespread resistance to the platform’s new “Gutenberg” editor.

Meanwhile, companies like Wix (WIX), Shopify (SHOP) and Squarespace have seen significant success by circumventing the professional web design community and instead offering viable DIY solutions for SMBs to use on a self-service basis.

Duda takes this model and niches down, which has, ironically, put the platform in position to deliver greater value to more people. By meeting the needs of agencies that build and maintain digital presences on behalf of clients, Duda has built its own ecosystem of de facto resellers.

What’s more, many of the world’s leading cloud hosting services, domain registrars and SaaS platforms offer customers their own branded website builders, which are powered by Duda’s technology and APIs.

These partners include Thryv, Hibu, Italiaonline, 1&1 Ionos, UOL, Sensis, Publicar, Solocal, Telstra, Broadly and Shore. Duda says that more than half a million websites have been created through its partner ecosystem.

The company launched in 2009 to help small businesses easily create mobile websites, so they could take advantage of the explosion of smartphone use by their customer base.

Six years later, however, it was time for a pivot. “Since we decided in 2015 to specialize in serving the needs of agencies, we’ve been seeing some of our most promising growth,” explains Duda Co-founder and CEO Itai Sadan.

“Agencies need to be able to create beautiful and top-performing sites at scale without compromising on design, and our collaboration and optimization tools are made to support that; this investment will allow us to scale and innovate with them more rapidly.”

Among the features that Duda has developed to become a go-to, comprehensive solution for agencies and SaaS platforms:

  • With the Widget Builder, service providers can easily create their own widgets inside Duda’s site builder, with little to no coding, and using APIs that enablie seamless integration of the Duda platform with third-party solutions and data sources.
  • Duda’s Site Comments make client interaction a breeze for agencies, as they can now communicate with their clients directly on top of a website as it’s being built. Each comment thread is linked to a specific element of the site for clearer communication, faster feedback and overall quicker turnaround times.
  • Asset Sharing gives web designers the option to save libraries of templates, sections and widgets they’ve built, so anyone on their team can access and use them in future site builds. In essence, this allows agencies to build a repository of reusable site assets.

Duda licenses its core technology as an API-enabled white label service, so digital agencies and SaaS companies can offer site building and design as part of their own feature set.

Offering an integrated site builder built on a headless content management model gives SMBs the ability to see complete site mockups in a few clicks, a powerful selling point for Duda’s digital agency customers.

Website owners simply load their content via handy forms that upload and store assets in a back-end database, without worrying about how it will look to the site user.

Duda’s engines then take the text, images and other content and ports it into the display framework, automatically optimizing all content for display.

Unlike sites built on WordPress or other content management systems, Duda’s platform assures digital agencies and their site customers that any technical advances – for example, when Google changed to a mobile-first indexing model – will automatically push out to all sites built on the platform.

Disclaimer: This is a contributed article and should not be taken as investment advice.

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