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Jan 10 2006
IAC Launches Comparison Shopping Engine
SEW reports that IAC/InterActiveCorp has launched a comparison shopping service called Pronto. Check it out and let us know what you think. We�ll do the same.

More on this later.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  21:01 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 10 2006
Google Earth for Mac OS
This came out today. Here�s what they had to say about it in Mountain View at �the plex.�

Today is the 10th day of January and I�m counting four product announcements (or their equivalents) so far�ahead of last year�s pace.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  16:46 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 10 2006
Spin-Offs No Sure Bet to Unlocking Value
BusinessWeek has an interesting take on the benefits of spin-offs, which is apropos given the likelihood that Verizon will go the spin-off route with its Information Services directory publishing unit.

A BusinessWeek study conducted by Dealogic found that � ...the six big companies that announced spin-offs in 2005 and completed them by the first week of 2006 saw no big run-up in shareholder value as a result.� The magazine found that the six companies (American Express, Dean Foods, Fortune Brands, Viacom (VIA ), Liberty Media and Clear Channel Communications) generated the same 3 percent return as the S&P 500.

One reason given for the disappointing results was that these spin-offs may have been perceived as �financial engineering� rather than strategic responses to threats from the Internet. Will this issue haunt Verizon? Probably not, since one of its objectives is to raise money to further its investment in building a digital network. Also, the balance of experience suggests directory organizations fare better as stand-alones than under the ownership of telecoms, particularly those with strategic objectives well beyond owning the local telephone exchange.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  14:39 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 10 2006
MIVA Retains DB
MIVA, formed from the combination of FindWhat and ESpotting, was the first network to adopt PPCall and is a marquee player abroad, but it has stuggled in the U.S. of late. The company has now apparently retained Deutsche Bank to explore �strategic opportunities.�

The press release states:

[MIVA] announced that it has retained investment banking firm Deutsche Bank Securities to assist the Board of Directors in exploring and evaluating a range of strategic opportunities to enhance shareholder value. Deutsche Bank will help the Board analyze options including, but not limited to, the raising of capital through the sale of securities or assets of the Company, a recapitalization, strategic acquisitions, and the combination, sale or merger of the business with another entity offering strategic opportunities for growth.

This may or may not mean the company is for sale. But in this market a quote from Woody Allen�s 1977 comedy Annie Hall is in order:

�A relationship is like a shark, it has to constantly move forward or it dies.�

In paid search if you�re not Google, Yahoo! or MSN, you�re in the same bind; it�s hard to move forward. LookSmart, Mamma, Enhance, Lycos, etc. all face the same challenge to varying degrees. That�s partly why LookSmart and Marchex (owner of Enhance) are building out vertical destination sites�to take control of their destinies.

I would expect consolidation among the second-tier networks (the market and The Market will demand it). We�ll see.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  14:16 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 10 2006
FAST Newspaper Deal
Today Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) announced a major deal to be the platform for MediaNews Group, which publishes 50 dailies and 121 other publications in 12 states (with combined daily and Sunday circulation of 2.1 million and 2.4 million, respectively). Publicly traded FAST is the platform/search provider behind and works with, Citysearch, SuperPages and CareerBuilder, among many other sites.

This move toward a search-driven interface that can �surface� more newspaper content is a very positive step in making local newspaper sites more competitive as user destinations for more than just news (which is the hook and where it ends for many people today).

They�ve got so many partners and have been so successful, the company may soon run out of prospects.

Here�s the full release.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  11:01 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 10 2006
Google in Car
Google, again pushing beyond the browser, announced (per a story in MediaPost per Forbes) that it would be working with Volkswagen to develop an automotive nagivation system based on Google Earth:

VOLKSWAGEN AG AND GOOGLE HAVE entered into a deal to develop a prototype navigation system for cars, according to a report Monday. The prototype will reportedly integrate the search giant�s satellite mapping product, Google Earth, into VW�s cars.

That probably puts Google in direct competition with one of its partners, Tele Atlas.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  10:15 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 10 2006
Knight Ridder Bidders
Thanks to PaidContent for pointing us to a story (reg. req�d) about bidders for Knight Ridder. Potential suitors include:

  • Thomas H. Lee Partners, Bain Capital, Texas Pacific Group and Hellman & Friedman

  • Blackstone Group, Providence Equity Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

  • Gannett Co., Tribune Co., Freedom Communications and the McClatchy Co.

There�s a lot at stake for the future of the industry hanging on which entity acquires the business and how it is subsequently managed.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:54 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 10 2006
Y! Center and G Updater
As Charlene Li points out about Google Pack in her recent post�and this similarly struck me when when I downloaded it�Google and Yahoo! are developing direct channels onto the desktop in a way that, really, only Microsoft has done before. The hidden genius of Google Pack may be the updater that communicates with the user and notifies her of new software or software updates. Yahoo! has something similar in Yahoo! Central, which comes with Yahoo! Messenger:

Yahoo! Central helps you to manage your internet default settings, such as default browser, email, and browser home page and search. Yahoo! Central collects and transmits information about each of your sessions to help us identify issues, evaluate how our program is used and provide our services. Y! Central will be set to alert you weekly about Yahoo! software updates.

Clearly, this is nothing new. Software companies have done this many times in the past. But the power of Google and Yahoo! in the marketplace�and the intensity of competition between them and Microsoft�makes this something noteworthy.

Now Google and Yahoo! don�t have to pull users to their respective sites to introduce new products. They can push those products directly to the desktop (or at least push notices to users). Of course, there are issues of trust and privacy. But think about the B2B side of this as well:

�Hey SME you�ve tried our consumer products, now test drive our new simplified online marketing tool.� (No feet on the street needed.)

Or a variation on that theme:

�Here�s your small business dashboard� ... to manage your parallel universe (vs. MSFT) of SME tools and software.

Imagine the possibilities ...

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:18 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

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