Changes At Natural Language Search Company Powerset

Big management changes are going on at Powerset, which has received much attention for its potential in using natural language processing for search. Barney Pell, who has been CEO at Powerset, posted today in his blog that he is transitioning to CTO, that Steve Newcomb, who had been COO, is leaving the company, and that Ron Kaplan, who had been CTO and Chief Science Officer, is now solely Chief Science Officer. The company is currently looking for a CEO. Several companies have been taking the natural language angle in creating the next generation search engine, but turning the potential into [...]


Report: Microsoft & Google Compete To Own Stake In Facebook

Online Faceoff from NY Post reports Google is in a heated battle with Microsoft to own a stake in Facebook. The two companies would like to own a 5 percent and 10 percent stake in Facebook to leverage the huge opportunity of advertising revenue from the site amongst other opportunities that come with owning a stake in a company with such a large user base. Microsoft is reportedly willing to spend more than they think the company is worth to beat out Google in securing an investment in the company. We reported in the past that Microsoft May Buy 5% Stake In Facebook and that Yahoo wanted to [...]


Searcharazzi Alert: Interwoven to Acquire Optimost

Just a few weeks after Offermatica was picked up by Omniture, TechCrunch reports that Interwoven has agreed to buy Optimost for $52 million in cash. While we were pretty sure that AKQA would get the deal, it looks like the CMS won out. The Interwoven website is now serving up a page specifically on the deal, stating: With Optimost, we will be able to offer the most advanced solution for accelerating conversion rates and online sales as well as enhanced capabilities for providing targeted content to Website visitors. Visitors to the page can also download the a podcast on the subject from [...]


SEM Firm ReachLocal Closes Massive Funding Round

ReachLocal, an SEM firm offering simplified Internet and local search services directly and indirectly to the small business market, has closed a massive $55 million round of funding. This adds to previous rounds raised by the company. Reach is building out sales offices in cities across the U.S. and a local sales force to sell search marketing directly to small businesses. It's a challenging and audacious course, but one that could succeed if pursued intelligently and with discipline. I have a long discussion of the segment, the challenges, and the opportunity on my personal blog, Screenwer [...]


Zillow Grabs Another Big Round Of Cash

As the Wall Street Journal reported this morning, real estate and local search site Zillow announced another round of investment -- this time a whopping $30 million. That means the company has raised roughly $90 million since launching in early 2006. Among other intended uses of the money, the site will be growing its sales force, which currently stands at 20. Zillow is one of a number of "Web 2.0" real estate sites that have shaken up the landscape in the past 12 - 18 months. Zillow's Vanessa Fox (formerly of Google) will be speaking at SMX Local & Mobile. [...]


Superpages Parent To Acquire InfoSpace Directory Sites

Recently Superpages has been putting out a press release a day, and today is no exception. The company just announced that it would be buying the directory assets of Infospace -- the only one explicitly named is Switchboard.com -- for $225 million (mixture of cash and debt). Infospace.com itself is a directory site and so is the recently launched FindIt, which is also the brand of one of Infospace's mobile assets. The acquisition will likely make Superpages (and related owned and operated sites) the traffic leader among Internet yellow pages/directory sites. This would seem to leave Infospac [...]


Accoona’s IPO Backfires, Again

Web search IPO stalls on underwriter doubts from CNN Money reports that Accoona's expected $80.5 million IPO has failed due to their underwriter backing out. Maxim Group, their underwriter, backed out after completing an in-depth review of the company. The New York Times reported Edward L. Rose, the firm’s vice chairman and general counsel for Maxim, said: After completing our due diligence review, we have chosen to disassociate ourselves with the company. This is the second time this year Accoona showed interest in an IPO and had to pull back. The first was earlier this year, when att [...]


Searcharazzi: False Starts; iCrossing’s $62M

It was about to be one spicy Friday, as Searcharazzi received a call on Thursday from a recruiter looking to replace a top editor in the search space. The conversation went something like this: Recruiter: "Our client is looking to replace the top spot at [name of publication]." Searcharazzi: "I thought that role was filled a month or so ago by [name of person]?" Recruiter: "Didn’t last 2 weeks." Searcharazzi: "Are you sure?" Recruiter: "Yes, I got this job req a few weeks back." As it turns out, our friend the recruiter had been wrong, very wrong, and frantically called back to clar [...]


German-Backed Search Project, Theseus, Given $165 Million Grant

EU OKs German Online Search-Engine Grant from Forbes reports Theseus, a German search research project, has received a $165 million grant from the European Union. Theseus aims to develop an advanced multimedia search engine. The EU will allow German subsidy of the project through 2011. We covered news in the past about this search project as well as the related Quaero project, which is being backed by France. [...]


Local.com Acquires B2B Local Search Provider PremierGuide

Local search destination Local.com, which recently announced two local and mobile search patents, has acquired PremierGuide for approximately $2 million. PremierGuide is a white label provider of local search functionality and listings to third party publisher sites (newspapers and local TV affiliates) and has a large roster of clients. I have some additional detail on my blog. [...]


Answers.com To Buy Dictionary.com For $100 Million

Answers Corp has reached an agreement to buy Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com and Reference.com from Lexico Publishing Group, LLC for $100 million. These properties attracted 11.5 million unique monthly users in the U.S. during the month of June 2007 according to comScore. They generated revenues of $7 million, EBITDA of $2.9 million and net income of $2.8 million in 2006. For more information, see the press release. [...]


FAST Buys Recommendations Engine AgentArts

Enterprise search provider FAST Search & Transfer has acquired personalization platform and recommendations engine AgentArts. The technology will be folded into FAST's various enterprise search offerings, which include a range of site search and monetization options for online publishers. The company also has a mobile search partnership with InfoSpace. FAST has positioned itself as a complete platform to help publishers of all stripes essentially compete with Google and avoid dependence on AdSense and other third-party contextual ad networks. [...]


Can Yahoo & Microsoft Ever Catch Google?

Google is not easing up in terms of search market share and acquisitions. I need not say it but Google is a formidable force that Yahoo and Microsoft are not going to overcome easily. Consider the following: Recent search engine market share figures (May 2007) show Google with 57.4%, Yahoo! with 22.9%, MSN with 8.8% and Ask.com with approximately 3.6% of the search market. These are average figures for data collected by Hitwise, NNR and comScore. Google’s last few steps, notably the purchase of YouTube.com and DoubleClick, will also prove to be scary for the #2 and #3 players in the ind [...]


Business.com Up For Sale, Bidding Starting At $300 Million

Business.com Could Hit Jackpot on Auction Block from the Wall Street Journal reports that Business.com is "on the auction block." The popular business-to-business directory is expected to make between $300 to $400 million on the sale. Who would be interested in buying Business.com? The Wall Street Journal believes that Dow Jones and New York Times might be some of the companies to make an offer. [...]


YP Corp. Acquires Classifieds Site LiveDeal

YP Corp., operator of directory site YP.com, has acquired classifieds destination site LiveDeal in a stock transaction worth roughly $12 million. The two sites will, in the near term, maintain separate destinations but trade and combine content. Over time, the destinations will likely tighten or merge. Classifieds is the third largest Internet ad category, capturing 18 percent of online ad spending according to the IAB, behind only display and search. Traditional U.S. directory and classifieds ad revenues were worth more than $30 billion in 2006. [...]


Reuters Buys Search Mining Tech; Former AOL Search Chief Campbell To Lead New Search Group

Via PaidContent, news that Reuters is to acquire text analytics company Clearforest, part of creating a new strategic group around search. Leading that group is Gerry Campbell, the former long-time head of AOL's search efforts: As part of its drive into this space, it has created a new strategic group within Reuters and appointed former head of search for AOL, Gerry Campbell, who will oversee the integration of ClearForest and drive this innovation. PaidContent made references to Clearforest having been working with Reuters to "boost search rankings for its business stories." To [...]


Autonomy To Reclaim Blinkx, Then Spin It Off

The relationship between enterprise search company Autonomy and video search company Blinkx has always been confusing. PaidContent.org now reports that the "weirdly secretive relationship" (I agree) is getting clearer. Autonomy is to exercise an option to take over Blinkx, then appears to be spinning some consumer-facing search technology that its owns (and I believe Blinkx was licensing) into an independent company Blinkx, that will go public in London. The Financial Times goes into more details on the deal, plus Autonomy offers a press release here. It all still seems as clear as [...]


Experian Acquires Hitwise For $240 Million

Experian has acquired Hitwise for about $240 million. Experian posted and Hitwise posted their respective press releases on the announcement. Don Robert, Chief Executive Officer of Experian, commented: "We have been successfully repositioning our Marketing Solutions business to meet our clients' needs as they continue to switch more of their advertising spend online. Hitwise, which is a rapidly growing, successful business, brings new, unique data to Experian and complements the existing data, tools and expertise that we already offer to clients in other areas such as research services and [...]


StumbleUpon Acquired By eBay: “Just Rumors,” Says Founder

The blogosphere is abuzz with rumors that eBay is acquiring StumbleUpon, but they're "just rumors," Garrett Camp, one of StumbleUpon's founders just told me on the phone. "There have been rumors before and that's what they are now," Camp said. Of course, if the company is in play, Camp would likely be bound by non-disclosure agreements, so the rumors could possibly turn out to have some merit. We'll follow the story and report any further details if and when they are confirmed. Meanwhile, it's interesting reading the speculation about why eBay, a vast auction site, would be interested in acq [...]


Seed Funder STN Labs Is Open For B’ness

This isn't search news per se, but Jake Baillie, who used to run local search engine True Local, is now helping to lead incubator/seed-round funder STN Labs. Jake left True Local in December specifically to pursue working at STN Labs, which already has an interesting portfolio of companies including local search data vendor Urban Mapping and mobile search provider go2. The company has got a sense of humor and is taking a no nonsense but simultaneously lighthearted approach (it appears) to funding. Check out their funding application, for example. [...]


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