Idearc, in deal-making mode and striving to drive more traffic to its SuperPages.com and close in on more national advertising contracts, announced yesterday that it was taking Switchboard off InfoSpace’s hands.
Switchboard is a pioneering IYP that at one time had major distribution deals with major portals and over 100 newspapers. But it never really figured into InfoSpace’s refined focus on aggregated search, ringtones and mobile.
The company is costing Idearc $225 million – a pretty premium over the $103 million that InfoSpace paid for it in 2004 (and, according to some, that amount was really less than $20 million due to cash that came with the deal). Paid Content reports that Switchboard made $17.2 million for the first six months of 2007, and has 47 staffers.
Switchboard’s technology is no longer state-of-the-art. In fact, it has been powered by Yellowpages.com — an arrangement that obviously won’t be renewed. But it still has remnant brand value from the old days, and significant traffic driving channels. Most appealingly, it has 95 percent organic/SEO traffic (i.e. no cost), and currently accounts for a large share of InfoSpace’s 7.7 million unique visitors, per ComScore. Theoretically, much of this traffic might be added to Superpages.com’s network, which gets 21.3 million uniques.