The Dubai-based online classifieds website was founded by J.C. Butler and Sim Whatley in 2005, although the duo stepped down from the day to day running of the company in 2013 after selling the 51 percent majority stake to South Africa-based investor Naspers for $120m. The company was then fully acquired by the OLX Group, a subsidiary of Naspers, in 2018 after the group bought the remaining 49 percent stake for $190m. The acquisition reportedly placed dubizzle at a value of $400 million, based on external calculations. However, the sale will not affect the company’s day to day operations, as it will continue to be run by the local management team independently.
Dubizzle had itself acquired a number of UAE-based startups including Expat Wheels, Wecashanycar, Masterkey and Airlist.
The company was initially founded to allow users to advertise goods or services. It currently operates in eight countries across the MENA region including Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
In 2018, it also launched a dedicated section for real estate developers to aggressively market their new projects across the globe. The ‘New Projects’ section came amidst tough macroeconomic conditions, liquidity challenges and sinking property prices in order to help real estate companies expand reach as well as better measure and track advertising spend.
In 2017, its dubizzle Motors section saw one new, used car listing for every two minutes, with over half (54 percent) of the used cars listed being under 5 years old, and 57 percent have been driven less than 100,000km.