Case Studies

Front-Page Story Attracts $300 Million Private Placement, Fuels Growth

As one of the agencies on the Idealab shortlist, Edge Communications, Inc. got a call in May 1999 with an extremely specific assignment: a new company,, would launch in six weeks, and the founders wanted a front page story in the Wall Street Journal to run on launch day.

High expectations, to be sure, especially considering the challenges:

  • The company's message was primarily a consumer one - CarsDirect was paving the way to let people buy cars online.
  • This lofty goal - enabling an online auto transaction - meant the company was going head-to-head with the automotive establishment and the Internet world.
  • CarsDirect's business model met significant resistance from an entrenched franchise dealer system. Dealers saw it as a play to eliminate them from the sale - even while, by law, a dealer must be involved in a new car transaction. This brought up several legal questions about the viability of the business model.

CarsDirect needed to be seen as a big player, and getting a business story in the Wall Street Journal was considered the most important step in the company's move to redefine an industry. Edge could not pursue the consumer story until Day Two.

Through savvy, heads‚Äźdown negotiation, education, persuasion (and some blood, sweat and tears), Edge got that front page story (and the satisfaction of watching the Journal reporter serve, in effect, as a source on Detroit TV on launch day) . And six months later, CarsDirect received $300 million in funding - the highest private placement up to that time.

For the next two years, Edge essentially served as CarsDirect's communications department, as the company grew from just a handful of employees to roughly 400 within its first year. In June 2005 the company changed its name to Internet Brands, and in July 2007 announced its intention to take the company public.