LookSmart announced last month its intention to purchase the WiseNut search engine, which it hopes will turn LookSmart into an "all-in-one" solution for portals, internet service providers and others who need a search solution.
LookSmart is a human-powered directory, and like all such directories, it has a weakness in that it may not have answers to unusual or uncommon queries. This means that it must partner with a crawler-based search engine to ensure it always has matches.
Inktomi has been LookSmart's crawler-based partner, but that partnership will end, when the WiseNut acquisition and integration into LookSmart is completed.
Indeed, not only will Inktomi be ousted as LookSmart's crawler partner, but the addition of WiseNut results means that LookSmart will be now fighting for the same clients that Inktomi wants -- along with every other search provider out there, such as FAST, Ask Jeeves, Overture and Google.
"It was very clear with the partners we spoke with that they want a solution that is focused on the sweet spot of monetization and relevancy," said LookSmart chairman and CEO Evan Thornley. "We obviously want to make sure we are in a position where we can win on relevance and monetization and take on folks like Google."
Don't expect any immediate changes on the LookSmart site, especially given that the WiseNut acquisition has yet to be concluded. Inktomi remains the crawler-based partner there, while FAST's search technology is used to sort through LookSmart's human-compiled database. But in the long run, this seems likely to change.
"We value our relationships with both of those companies and work with them globally in many ways. Obviously having our [WiseNut” technology may change that relationship over time," Thornley said.
As for Inktomi, the company said that it was currently "evaluating" its relationship with LookSmart.
What's likely to happen at LookSmart? The plans are sketchy so far, but it seems that LookSmart will probably follow the same system it currently operates: listing LookSmart directory categories first, sites from within the directory next and then crawler-based results from across the web, as found by WiseNut.
As for the WiseNut site, it appears that it will be maintained as a standalone "showcase" site for the immediate future. Thornley said that efforts will be made in the near future to refresh the WiseNut index more frequently, which has been the crawler's big weakness, to date.
LookSmart to Buy WiseNut
InternetNews.com, March 12, 2002
LookSmart is to acquire WiseNut through an all-stock deal valued at $9.25 million, when this article was written.