Geosign, a privately owned publisher of dozens of local and vertical services, including TrueLocal, has teamed with Go2 to get a foot in the door of the nascent mobile directory marketplace. Go2, founded in 1999, was a pioneer in mobile directories, employing more than 100 people and forming relationships with key directory players. But it crashed and burned in the dot-com implosion of 2002, and went through a bankruptcy-type proceeding that left the company firmly in the hands of founder and CEO Lee Hancock.
While funds have been short, and Go2 subsists with just 15 employees, it has been swept up in the general interest surrounding mobile content. Today, it attracts 1 million unique visitors a month, coming on at the rate of two times a month, and registering 20 million page views, says Hancock. He notes that the site has “several thousand” Yellow Pages advertisers, and “50 to 100” regular advertisers. It also drives mobile traffic for Yahoo! Search Marketing. Geosign itself attracts 35 million unique visitors per month via its sites and has 130 employees.
The deal with Geosign provides Go2 with an unspecified amount of cash. A press release says cash and financing arrangements total $13 million, but details are scant. In any case, the plan is to stabilize Go2's finances, and have the companies team up to pursue new types of content and services, and also flesh out Go2's online site, which has been getting more interest.
Hancock says people don’t always want to research things live, when they are dependent on their cells. Insteady, they often want to go somewhere in a few hours, but would like to first research on their PC while at work. He adds that Geosign's support will enable Go2 to pursue “media-like” opportunities that will keep people coming back to the service.
“I love Yellow Pages, and local, as a business model,” Hancock says. “But people don't check out restaurant listings every other day. We need people to come to us a couple of times a week,” he says. The model for Go2 extensions is probably something like Go2Golf, a vertical site created with Conde Nast’s Golf Digest and sponsored by Acura. Other vertical sites that might serve as models include Go2USC and other college sites, which feature sports and events info, and Go2Movies. “Movies and entertainment in general do very well for us,” he says.