Spoke yesterday with Robert Rath at Sensis about a range of issues. One was to learn more about Platefood, a London-based joint venture that is majority owned by Sensis. The other partners are Norway-based Fast Search & Transfer and Schibsted, one of Norway’s biggest media companies. Platefood’s mission is to take the search platform developed in Australia and export it abroad. One thing that clearly emerged from the discussion is that Sensis is exporting a strategy, or the tools to execute a strategy, as much as it is exporting technology.
What Sensis is arguing is that publishers should not hand over the billing relationship with the customer — ever. And no publisher should train users to go elsewhere to find local businesses. Yet building the index and PFP engine are not core to the value publishers bring, nor are they assets that any publisher wants to be over-dependent on to a potential long-term competitor. Platefood is offered as a chance to retain control without making a prohibitive investment. It is an enabling platform for those who wish to follow a strategy similar to the one Sensis follows in Australia.