Breaking News: Infospace Sells Online Directory Business to Superpages

Just bumped into a friend while checking in at the hotel of the Kelsey Group Conference. He tells me Infospace has just sold Switchboard.com to Idearc (Superpages). Turns out Infospace has sold its whole online directory business to Idearc.

Excerpts from the Reuters article:

InfoSpace Inc said it agreed to sell its online directory business, including Switchboard.com, to Yellow-pages directories publisher Idearc Inc for $225 million in cash.

“What we did here was pick an asset that really the market was not valuing at all and turned it into real cash,” Bellevue, Washington-based InfoSpace’s CEO Voelker said by phone.

The 47 employees in the directory business are going to be offered jobs in Idearc, Voelker said.

The online directory business contributed about $17 million to the company’s first-half 2007 revenue of about $157 million.

The Kelsey Group blog has more info.

What it means: traffic consolidation. Superpages.com continues to build its online reach and frequency through this acquisition.

Insider Pages Acquisition May Be Announced Next Week

According to TechCrunch, InsiderPages has been sold to a public company. They add: “Our understanding is that the acquisition price is more than the total capital raised by the company, but not by much.”

SFDaddyo commented that “Rumor has it that they were for sale for less than $10 million”.

Peter Krasilovsky adds on The Kelsey Group’s blog: “I would speculate that possible purchasers are probably CitySearch, Yellowpages.com, or RH Donnelley. Theoretically, Yellowpages.com and RHD would have the most to gain from such an acquisition, since they could use the 600,000+ reviews as a building block for their own review archives. Yellowpages.com, in fact, has just rolled out a review feature, and it is going to be tough to ramp it up quickly. They could also use Insider’s crack tech team. But some people’s money would actually be on CitySearch as a buyer. While CitySearch wouldn’t incorporate the technology, it would like to get ahold of the 3 million+ unique viewers that come to the site every month. It could also gain from SEOing all the businesses that are covered. I bet there isn’t even ten percent overlap with CitySearch. Theoretically, City could also integrate “Insider Advice,” a Yahoo Answers-like feature. Still….$9 million or so is a lot for what are –basically– aging reviews.”

What it means: I had tried last week to do a “back-of-the-envelope” valuation model (based on the Switchboard.com acquisition by InfoSpace) which put their value at around three to four times the total raised by the company. If TechCrunch is right (and they’re usually pretty good!), my model was faulty as it looks like they we will be sold for a little
bit more than $10 million. Which might mean that the original investors will not get much out of the transaction (there were two investment rounds). I’m not sure Citysearch would get much out of Insiderpages though. I suspect the acquirer might be one of the big three US directory companies (YellowPages.com, RHD or Superpages).