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Idearc Buys Switchboard, Other Assets from InfoSpace

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Local search and directory publisher Idearc has acquired Switchboard.com and other directory assets from InfoSpace for $2 million in cash. Switchboard.com was acquired by InfoSpace in 2004 for $103 million. The directory products will be folded into Idearc's Superpages.com, and monetized through its existing ad products, giving advertisers access to more inventory and a new audience, according to a statement.

"With the addition of Switchboard.com and its associated networks, we are increasing the scale of our fast-growing local search platform, enabling our advertisers' content to reach even more consumers and boosting our high-quality organic Internet traffic base," said Kathy Harless, Idearc's president and CEO.

InfoSpace's online directory business offers directory services through InfoSpace's branded Web sites, such as Switchboard.com and InfoSpace.com, and through private-label distribution partners. The vast majority of the revenue is generated from Switchboard.com. For the first half of 2007, the business had revenues of $17.2 million, and employs approximately 50 people.

That would leave InfoSpace with a mobile business and a few metasearch engines like Dogpile and corresponding toolbars. But, as Andy Beal points out: "The Triangle Business Journal–yes we do have a tech industry in North Carolina folks–suggests that InfoSpace is also set to sell its entire mobile division to Durham-based Motricity."

Superpages.com's network had 21.3 million unique visitors in August 2007 and InfoSpace Directories and Resources had 7.7 million unique visitors in the same time period, according to comScore's Media Matrix for August 2007.

The latest in a string of product launches and investments by Idearc in local search.

UPDATE: According to Kate Kaye at ClickZ News, Idearc is touting the buy as a way to get more organic Web traffic, thereby limiting the need to rely on traffic from search engines.

"We want to be able to control our own destiny," said Idearc President, Internet Eric Chandler, during a press conference call this morning. The acquisition, which will include InfoSpace's mobile application Find It, will provide Idearc with "more high quality organic traffic," he added.
Existing agreements Switchboard has in place with search partners have caps on the amount of traffic that can be driven to its directories. "Once we own the traffic there are no caps for us," said Chandler.

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