The Rebirth of LookSmart
LookSmart has recently been in the news due to the value of their shares dropping and the possibility of them losing their spot on Nasdaq. October 27th, 2005 may go down in web history as judgement day for LookSmart, one of the major search engine workhorses of the 1990’s which is striving to reinvent itself and appease its users & investors. On the 27th, LookSmart will be announcing their third quarter earnings after the market closes.
In September, LookSmart CEO David B. Hills let the world know that LookSmart was heading in a new direction, based upon vertical search, communities, paid search, software and content licensing, and monetizing traffic across its channels.
“Since the beginning of this year, we’ve been focused on executing a turnaround plan for the Company that leverages our ad network, consumer vertical search products and the licensing of our technology and content to build long term shareholder value over time through performance,” said David B. Hills, chief executive officer of LookSmart. “We are implementing this plan, and I’m encouraged to see that our ad network is providing increasingly positive results for our customers, our new vertical search clusters are starting to be released and we’re executing on our technology and content licensing deals.”
Recently some LookSmart announcements have seemed to fortify a focus in Mr. Hills’s direction. Looksmart has become the paid listings partner of choice of Search123 (a FastClick/ValueClick company), a third tier paid search engine service. From the legal agreement/10-K/A filing : LookSmart will determine the CPC bid and include it in the live feed sent in response to such query. LookSmart will have sole discretion to decide the CPC bid for each search term, and such CPC bid may change frequently.
Additionally, the new Looksmart Money and other channels, available via the LookSmart site seem to be full of content and targeted to specific markets, especially those markets which can generate ad revenue. The channels may remind one of a mix between About.com and InfoSearchMedia, but if the content can get indexed in the major search engines, and with its already existing user base, mixed with the renting or distribution of their ad serving technologies, LookSmart may be able to pull off their new direction.
Other LOOK activity includes the company’s Furl.net search and tag system is reportedly being used by the New York Times and Viacom is in some sort of content agreement with LookSmart. Rumors are also spinning that Ask Jeeves’s sponsored links program is powered by the LookSmart LookListings application and LOOK also partnered with Vivisimo last year in a similar manner with its clustered ad feed program. Not forgetting their ownership of WiseNut search technology, the LookSmart and Zeal directories and NetNanny, it will be intriguing to see which LookSmart acquisitions and directions have turned a profit this quarter.
Can Mr. Hills resurrect LookSmart? Is there a sound direction behind the company, or a lot of sponsored link generated content being thrown to the public, hoping for revenue and expansion of the LookListings program? Are there any other partnerships or distribution deals in the works besides the one with Search123? We should all find out on Thursday.