Petco has acquired PetCoach, an online service and mobile application that dispenses pet health advice from a collection of veterinarians and other pet experts in response to user questions. Financial terms were not disclosed.
PetCoach co-founder and CEO Brock Weatherup will join Petco as executive vice president, strategic innovation and digital experience. In this new role, Weatherup will be responsible for driving Petco's growth through innovation and enterprise-wide, consumer-focused digital initiatives.
Among Weatherup’s other endeavors, he was once SVP and chief digital officer at PetSmart, a position he attained after PetSmart acquired Pet360, an online seller of pet food and pharmaceuticals that Weatherup co-founded and led as CEO.
This acquisition comes a few years after Petco acquired another pet-med firm, Drs. Foster & Smith, a deal which may have been influenced by PetSmart's acquisition of Weatherup's Pet360 site. Petco also has some similar online resource and education properties. So, in any case, it looks like a pretty natural fit for Petco in a segment it had already expanded into in some form.
Weatherup is a serial entrepreneur who brings a varied and lengthy resume to Petco. He not only worked for a major competitor, but founded not one, but two, pet-related online businesses. And that all came after he co-founded and served as CEO of vinyl wall graphics manufacturer Fathead, of all places. Overall, it's an intriguing digital pedigree, and that experience is probably what Petco is after even more than bringing on board another pet-related resource for its customer base.
The pet sector has grown like a well-fed Irish Wolf Hound in recent years, and hardly a month went by in the last year without Petco opening at least a handful of new stores. Yet it's a segment expanding more into pet supplies, medicines, content and education, and as with many other brick-and-mortar segments, so much future interaction with customers will be happening online and via mobile. Petcoach reportedly has more than 150,000 unique monthly visitors and receives several thousand health questions each month from users, and Petco will be looking to Weatherup to show it how to build businesses services and apps quickly that can achieve those kinds of numbers almost as quickly.