400x400_logos_TechnicallyPhilly

by Juliana Reyes, Lead Reporter at Technical.ly/Philly

CEO Brock Weatherup took Pet360 from a failing ecommerce company to a family of businesses focused on ecommerce, subscriptions and advertising.

In what appears to be an effort to ramp up ecommerce sales, pet supply retail giant PetSmart plans to acquire Pet360, an ecommerce company based in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. The announcement came amid news of a potential PetSmart sale, as reported by Fortune and other outlets.

All 125 Pet360 employees will remain in Plymouth Meeting after the sale, said Pet360 CEO Brock Weatherup, and it’s likely the company will hire more locally. Pet360 is one of a handful of consumer-facing ecommerce companies in the region, like Urban Outfitters and QVC.

Weatherup, 42, who used to run a wall graphics company called Fathead, came to Philadelphia in 2009 to turn around what was then called Pet Food Direct. Back then, Pet Food Direct was an 11-year-old struggling ecommerce business in Harleysville, Pa., (as chronicled by Forbes last year).

Since then, Pet Food Direct has become just one of Pet360′s businesses. The company has acquired a number of pet-focused ecommerce and media companies (and invested in at least one, too), raised $18 million from Updata Partners and LRR Partners and moved to Plymouth Meeting to be more centrally-located to attract talent. Pet360′s main businesses are:

  • Pet360, which aims to be a highly personalized site that offers content for pet owners. Pet owners can register and input data about their pets and only get relevant content. If you don’t register, the site can learn about your profile based on your actions on the site.
  • Pet Food Direct, which is now a subscription ecommerce business.
  • PetMD, a health and wellness site, which Pet360 acquired when PetMD was a small startup in 2010.
  • Only Natural Pet, which sells organic products. Pet360 acquired the business in early 2014.
  • Blog Paws, a business-to-business company that acts as a community of pet owners who are “social influencers.” Pet360 acquired Blog Paws two years ago.

The driving idea behind Pet360 is that there was a “lack of individualized communication in the pet space,” Weatherup said. Pet360 offers that information (which products should you get if you have a golden retriever?) and a place to buy them, plus a community of fellow “pet parents,” as Pet360 calls them.

The revenue model is 90 percent ecommerce and 10 percent advertising. Pet360 has what Weatherup called “the largest pet-specific ad network,” working with small clinics to pet food companies to corporations like Subaru who want to reach pet owners. The company acts as a “highly targeted ad agency” and develops advertising for those companies, Weatherup said. It was a model the company started moving toward about two-and-a-half years ago.

Pet360 has three warehouses: one in Harlesyville and one in Chino, Calif., both of which are run by an outside company and employ about 120 total. The warehouse in in Louisville, Ky., is a pet pharmacy that Pet360 runs. It employs about ten.

As for Pet360′s 125 employees in Plymouth Meeting, the biggest departments are:

  • Customer care (~35 employees)
  • Digital marketing (~25)
  • Technology & engineering (~25)

The staff is a mostly a “30-something crowd,” Weatherup said, and they come from all over: West Chester, New Jersey, Philadelphia (Weatherup himself lives in Wayne). Most of them are also “pet parents” and are encouraged to bring their pets to the 22,000-square-foot office (and to include a photo of their pet in their email signatures).

Pet360 also has a small eight-person office in New York City and a small presence in Miami, where PetMD was founded and is run.

Weatherup said he couldn’t say much about his company’s sale to PetSmart, which will close in the next 30-45 days, but that Pet360 would remain in the area as a subsidiary of the Phoenix, Az.-based retailer.