Marchex Buys Openlist

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.

Berk and I have had an ongoing conversation about search and local search in particular for the past couple of years and I think he’s doing some of the most nuanced thinking about the user experience and how to make it better. I think this is going to be very interesting for both companies: Berk and crew will get more resources to build out the next generation of their product and Marchex will get some very valuable tools and technology to improve the quality of its domain network and the range of services it can offer to partners (e.g., and Houston Chronicle).

Local targeting and local leads convert better than general paid search ads. But the combination of local and vertical presumably makes and even better lead (e.g., NY Hotels, SF Restaurants, etc.)

The Openlist technology, which is actually more of a methodology, will help beef up the thousands of domains that Marchex has been building and populating with advertising. Add the Openlist navigation and aggregated user reviews to those sites and you start to have something this is much more interesting and meaningful. Here are a few of examples:

The better these sites get and the more leads they deliver, the more Marchex traffic acquisition costs come down. Marchex's TrafficLeader product is behind the simplified search offering being packaged at (and affiliated companies) and the Houston Chronicle.

Beyond simply making these domains more rich and giving them real content, there’s a great deal more here that’s possible over time. The thinking about vertical and local search that Openlist has done and the content the company has been able to aggregate with a very small staff has made it one of the most interesting sites in Local to watch.

What Openlist is really is a platform; and Marchex may start offering those "platform" services to existing and potential partners. Openlist has been working with the NY Times Co. at for a couple of years. Here’s an interesting local travel site they jointly produced. There are many more such potential opportunities out there (esp. for newspapers).

Marchex is also an impressive company in terms of how it has made a slew of acquisitions, including IndustryBrains, and how it has aggressively pushed into Local. With Openlist, Marchex can now move out in several different directions simultaneously. And it will be interesting to see how the company leverages Berk’s thinking and the Openlist platform and approach to search.

Here's the release.


10 Responses to “Marchex Buys Openlist”

  1. » Blog Archive » Openlist Purchased by Marchex Says:

    […] -Greg Sterling’s take on the deal […]

  2. Bronte Media » Congratulations Mr Berk! Says:

    […] Brian Smith and Greg Sterling had the scoop.   […]

  3. » Blog Archive » Quick Links Says:

    […] -Today Openlist announced it was acquired by Marchex. I’m an avid Openlist user. More at VerticalSearch and, more importantly, Greg Sterling’s blog. […]

  4. Marchex Acquires OpenList » Emad Fanous Says:

    […] press release, more info.              Permalink […]

  5. Tom Says:

    Congratulations to OpenList!

  6. Marchex’s Massive ‘Local Network’ « Screenwerk Says:

    […] billion pages. The move is probably unprecedented outside of a search index. In May of 2006 Marchex acquired local search site OpenList and has used its technology assets and methodology to enable this […]

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    […] a series of calculated steps, Marchex launched more than 100,000 local websites, providing more than one billion pages of local […]

  8. Marchex Local Report and New Blog « Screenwerk Says:

    […] authors, Matthew Berk, was a former Jupiter analyst before he started OpenList, which Marchex acquired in May of last year. The company has also started a local blog called […]

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    […] May of last year, Marchex acquired OpenList and the acquisition has literally helped transform the company’s business. Marchex took its […]

  10. Marchex Releases Powerful SMB Reputation Management Tool With “Search Inside” Says:

    […] spoke with Marchex EVP of Product Engineering Matthew Berk, whose OpenList was acquired by Marchex in 2006 and is the basis of this tool, and he said that SMBs in the beta test are able […]

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