Avvo will remain in Seattle after the acquisition and Mark Britton will stay on as CEO.

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Seattle startup Avvo, which operates an online legal marketplace, will be bought by Internet Brands, a California company that owns several other websites including WebMD.

Avvo will keep its headquarters in Seattle after the deal closes and continue operating under its brand name. CEO and founder Mark Britton said he will stay on in his current role, as will the company’s 350 employees.

El Segundo-based Internet Brands is owned by private equity company KKR and operates a series of other legal websites, including Nolo and Martindale-Hubbell.

The companies did not disclose the purchase price. Avvo has raised more than $132 million from investors since it was founded in 2006 by Britton, himself a lawyer. The company was valued at about $650 million after its last funding round in 2015, according to PitchBook Data. The deal with Internet Brands is expected to close in early February.

Headquartered in downtown Seattle, Avvo primarily helps people find lawyers and get legal advice online. Avvo attracts 100 million visits to its site and apps each year, and more than 300,000 lawyers use Avvo services.

Mark Britton, CEO of Seattle-based Avvo.  (Avvo)
Mark Britton, CEO of Seattle-based Avvo. (Avvo)

The acquisition will give Avvo a chance to collaborate with Internet Brands’ other legal-focused sites, rather than trying to offer every online legal service itself, Britton said Thursday.

“It’s all about serving more legal consumers, getting them the legal help they need and helping lawyers with their businesses,” he said.

Having the resources of the larger company will also help Avvo rely less on advertising with Google and Facebook to get the company name out to customers. Those giants act as both partner and competitor, by advertising their own and others’ services, Britton said.

Britton served as Expedia’s first general counsel before starting Avvo. Successful serial entrepreneur and Expedia co-founder Rich Barton sits on Avvo’s board. Barton also started online real estate company Zillow and employer review website Glassdoor.