In 1999, with the dot-com boom near its apogee, Angie’s List moved online. The site, which still charged a subscription fee and also made money through advertising, rated different businesses from A to F in categories like punctuality and professionalism. It also allowed users to write signed reviews about different businesses in their area, which Angie’s List hoped would make reviews fairer and more accurate. (Users’ entire names did not appear, but they did have to provide them to the company.)
Businesses that received bad reviews could try to settle the issue with customers who complained through Angie’s List; if the business ignored the complaint resolution process or failed to resolve a complaint, it could be placed in the Penalty Box, a kind of online pillory, and temporarily lose its listing on the site. Widely praised businesses earned a Super Service Award, as well as greater attention on the site.
Mr. Oesterle became chief executive in 1999, when Ms. Hicks left to attend Harvard Business School. (She later returned in a different capacity.) In time the company employed more than 2,000 workers, mainly based in Indianapolis during Mr. Oesterle’s tenure, and developed a user base of millions in dozens of cities across the United States.
In 2004 Mr. Oesterle stepped away to run Mr. Daniels’s campaign for governor. He had known Mr. Daniels, who was then director of the Office of Management and Budget, for years. Mr. Oesterle raised millions of dollars for Mr. Daniels’s campaign while having him tour the state in an R.V., ride a motorcycle and stay overnight with constituents to demonstrate that he was a man of the people.
Mr. Daniels won handily, beating the Democratic incumbent, Joseph Kernan, with more than 53 percent of the vote.