Aggregate, Syndicate, Dominate: How InfoSpace.com Mapped a Course to Success
OnTheInternet contributing editor Madanmohan Rao interviews Naveen Jain, CEO of InfoSpace.com
By Madanmohan Rao
Staying away from the browser wars of 1997 and the portal wars
of 1998, one company has been quietly sharpening its focus on
the consumer Internet market in a rather novel way. Instead of
bringing people to Internet content, Washington-based InfoSpace.com
has been bringing online content to people no matter where they
What was the founding vision behind InfoSpace.com?
The founding vision was to be the leading OEM provider of real-world
content on the Net. Mirroring the very successful Microsoft OEM
business model for DOS and Windows, we envisioned doing the same
for real-life content on the Internet for Web sites and Internet
How have this vision and strategy evolved since founding?
We have been very successful in implementing our founding
How has the company grown-in terms of people, content, ad revenues, and alliances?
InfoSpace.com is primarily a technology and business development
company. Therefore, most of our approximately 90 people work either
in the sales/business development areas or in technical areas.
Our content offerings have continued to expand to include news,
real-time stock quotes, sports, and in-depth local content such
as local events.
From where does your aggregated data originate?
Canadian and U.S. business data is provided by infoUSA. Thomson
Directories provides business data for the U.K., and data for
European countries is provided by Kapitol. We also get some content
from Acxiom in the U.S. and Canada and 192.com in the U.K. These
data providers get their information from phone books and other
public records. Data in the e-mail directory comes from various
Internet service providers [ISPs] and from user submissions. Maps
and directions are provided by Vicinity (http://www.vicinity.com/).
This information is distributed to local, regional, and national
portals, media sites, etc.
Whom do you view as your key competitor, and how do you stack up against it?
Fortunately, InfoSpace.com does not have any direct competitors.
However, some companies do compete with us on different components
such as directory services and classifieds. There are two main
reasons why we sustain leadership in the area of private-label
solutions. One, our proprietary technology allows us to integrate
content from hundreds of different content providers as if the
content came from a single provider, and two, we also can make
our solution available on a private-label basis to Web sites and
Internet appliances through tie-ups with GTE Mobilnet, Bell Atlantic/NYNEX,
AT&T, and Mitsui Comtek.
What kind of traffic does your content account for, and how has this grown?
Our private-label solution today has an unduplicated reach of
over 83 percent of all Web sites. In other words, four out of
five people on the Internet have access to our private-label content
and commerce solutions. Traffic on the InfoSpace.com affiliate
network climbed to 318 million page views for the month of December
1998, up from the 86 million page views reported during December
1997, according to Nielsen I/PRO. Additionally, at an average
of 23 page views per visit for December 1998, InfoSpace.com's
page views per
What kind of revenues has your strategy been generating?
InfoSpace.com reported $9.4 million in revenue for calendar year
1998, and analysts are expecting us to do approximately $25 million
in revenue this year. We generate revenue from a variety of streams
such as advertising, licensing fees, search queries, data views,
and transaction fees.
What is your alliance strategy, and what revenue sharing agreements/formulas do you have?
Our alliance strategy is to continue to be the leader in the content-outsourcing
market. We now have partnerships with independent Yellow Pages
publishers, newspapers, television/radio stations, search engines,
ISPs, information appliances companies, and other popular Web
What is the underlying technology you are using?
We have built proprietary, patent-pending technology that enables
us to provide a unique product for the Internet community and
that includes a Web server, database technologies, and an advertising
What is your international strategy, and how are your international operations faring?
We plan to expand globally by using the same technology and business
model that have proved to be so successful for us in the U.S.
We were able to successfully duplicate the business model in our
U.K. joint venture with Thomson Directories. We also have started
our international operation in Canada and are evaluating countries
in Europe and Asia.
What is your vision of what the Net can offer India, and how do you plan to tap the Asian and Indian markets?
The Internet eliminates geographic and time zone barriers by bringing
world-class technical expertise to the international market. An
entrepreneur in India can develop the technology and distribute
it through the Internet just like anybody in the U.S. can do.
The Internet eliminates all barriers to developing the technology
and distributing it to the end customer.
About the Author: Madanmohan Rao