OpenList: The Local Engine That Could

Openlist is a site that continues to interest me. Run by a very small team including CTO Matthew Berk, a former Jupiter analyst, the site has built a profitable vertical search engine with a local focus: Hotels, Restaurants and the amorphous but helpful Attractions.

Berk is one of the smartest and most thoughtful people I’ve encountered about the challenges of search and its current strengths and limitations. Remarkably, Openlist built an engine that is arguably better and more efficient than Citysearch on a shoestring and without the huge employee overhead that IAC eventually had to lose in order to become profitable. Compare “Mexican restaurants, new york” on Openlist vs. Citysearch. If they’re even comparable then Openlist wins because it was built by a tiny staff purely with aggregation. (IAC-owned EPI is an Openlist advertiser.)

Berk has plans to roll out more verticals over time. And, interestingly, he declined VC funding some time ago to build the company “organically.” Relatively few people may be familiar with Openlist right now. But my guess is that over time that will change.

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One Response to “OpenList: The Local Engine That Could”

  1. Screenwerk » Blog Archive » Marchex Buys Openlist Says:

    […] Search and contextual marketing provider Marchex has purchased the assets of Openlist for $13 million in cash and Marchex common stock. As part of the deal, Openlist CTO Matthew Berk will join Marchex as a full-time employee. I’ve been a fan of Openlist since its launch as Local-i a couple of years ago. The site was built by a very small staff, purely through aggregation. […]

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