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 Infospace with its mobile and search assets (although there’s a rumor that the company is going to sell some or all of its mobile business to Motricity). Accordingly this deal raises questions about the company’s future. Infospace acquired Switchboard in 2004 for approximately $160 million amid rising expectations for the company’s online directory business. Switchboard was then seen as a strong consumer directory brand, stronger than Infospace.com itself.
According to comScore’s most recent Internet yellow pages traffic data, Switchboard still appears to have considerable strength among consumers: “Switchboard’s traffic assignment changed from Infospace.com to Yellowpages Network in December 2006, contributing to significant gains within the Yellowpages Network.”
Local search/directory is a strategic link between general Web search and mobile. At this point the rationale (except to raise cash) behind Infospace’s sale of these assets is not apparent.
I have more information at my personal blog, Screenwerk.