Angie’s List CEO, critic of law seen as anti-gay, eyes a political career

April 16, 2015, 2:07 PM UTC
Business partners Angela Hicks and Bill Oesterle
Photo: Jimmy Fishbein

Angie’s List (ANGI) CEO William Oesterle is stepping down to become more “civically involved,” news that comes just weeks after the executive was a leading critic of a controversial religious freedom law in the online consumer rating company’s home state of Indiana.

“After 20 years with the Company overseeing significant growth and market expansion, Mr. Oesterle has shared his intention to pursue other interests, including becoming more civically involved in the State of Indiana,” the company said in a press release late Wednesday.

Oesterle, a co-founder of Angie’s List, will stay on until a successor is named. He made waves in late March when he said he was canceling the company’s $40 million headquarters expansion in Indianapolis as a direct result of the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence that many, including CEO’s of countless Fortune 500 companies, saw as opening the way to discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people.

The Indiana legislature subsequently made changes to the bill that defused the controversy, though Oesterle continues to have reservations about the bill, according to the Indianapolis Star. Oesterle has said he “abhors” discrimination and that his position on gay rights came in part from running a company that has hired gays, the Star reported.

While the Angie’s List press release did not expressly say Oesterle, a Republican, would pursue a political career, the executive has long followed politics. The New York Times reported he had managed the successful campaign of Mitch Daniels, Pence’s predecessor, campaign for governor 11 years ago. Oesterle has been quoted as saying that Indiana’s reputation has been “badly damaged” by the RFPA law. Citing a StatehouseFile interview, the Times reported that Oesterle said becoming a candidate for some office was one of many options he was mulling.

Oesterle’s announcement comes as Angie’s List is bracing for the potential encroachment on its turn of’s (AMZN) Home Services rankings service and Google’s (GOOG) expected launch this spring of a service that links Google search users with local home services providers. Angie’s List shares have fallen from an all time high in the summer of 2013 of $28 to current levels around $6.
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