VentureBeat reports that Citysearch/IAC is the mystery buyer of InsiderPages — purchase price not disclosed. I would guess it wasn’t more than 2x what the investors put in, given that the company was being shopped from a position of weakness. IAC as a buyer is both appropriate and fascinating.
Question: Will InsiderPages just be swallowed up and its brand disappear? On the one hand the InsiderPages brand is not well established and IAC already has two competing local brands: Ask (City) and Citysearch. IAC also owns ServiceMagic, which focuses on the home improvement and repair vertical.
That said, IAC was an aggressive bidder for YellowPages.com and lost to SBC (now AT&T). So maybe there’s a plan to maintain the brand in some fashion given that Citysearch has had difficulty getting lots of traction beyond its core A&E category. Note that Citysearch is growing its sales channel and recently opened a big new call center in Atlanta.
So perhaps InsiderPages would become a true yellow pages (+ reviews) site for IAC. But if the brand isn’t maintained (and further developed) what will Citysearch have bought? It will have bought some technology (not unique), perhaps some engineers (which I hear are great) and lots of review content.
IAC has always had challenges integrating its properties into something larger. Ask is starting to give the company a way to do that but it still remains to be seen. This acquisition recapitulates that challenge in an interesting way.
Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm focused on online consumer and advertiser behavior and the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local marketplace.