Kelley Blue Book helps steer people away from something yellow -- a lemon. The company publishes information on vehicle pricing, including automobile trade-in values, as well as car ratings, reviews, and news. While the company still publishes the traditional print Blue Book Official Guide, it has shifted its focus to the Web, offering all of its information online. In addition to vehicle values and reviews, the Kelly Blue Book website offers tools for used and new vehicle searching, as well as dealer price quotes. It also offers car videos and a mobile app. The company was established in 1926 by car buff Les Kelley. It was acquired by online automotive advertising company AutoTrader.com in late 2010.
Though the terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, reports estimated the value of Kelley Blue Book at $500 million to $1 billion. Kelley Blue Book made the deal to help it accelerate growth in the vehicle valuation and consumer car shopping spaces, as well as increase traffic to its website. As a result of the acquisition, Kelley Blue Book operates as a subsidiary of AutoTrader. It retained its management, including CEO Paul Johnson.
The company's flagship kbb.com site, founded in 1995, grew to average more than 19 million unique visitors in one month in 2011. The site underwent a redesign in 2011. As part of the launch, the site introduced new tools such as Reality Check for New Cars (offering a price range based on actual market sales and data) and a revamped Total Cost of Ownership (which takes account factors beyond the vehicle sticker price).
Before establishing the company, founder Kelley had owned one of the nation's largest car dealerships, the Kelley Kar Company. He chose to name his publishing company "Blue Book" after the social register, which listed prestigious people in the community (called the Southwest Blue Book: The Original Society Directory of Southern California). – less