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FindGuru to be sold or shut down

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Advantage Business Media, which acquired the parametric search product formerly known as ReedLink with its July 2006 purchase of Reed Business Information’s Rockaway, N.J.-based New Products Division, has decided to shut it down or sell it before the end of the year.

ReedLink was an ambitious vertical search project based on a vast product database—including 15,000 product categories and 50,000 different manufacturers—designed so that a potential buyer could research and compare individual items on a like-to-like basis according to detailed specifications. Manufacturing was the first industry sector for ReedLink, launched in early 2005, followed at the end of last year by life sciences and construction.

In September, Advantage relaunched ReedLink with the name FindGuru and unveiled new features, such as blogs, and additional functionality, including a new structured taxonomy that enables users to browse through categories and drill down to find the specific product or content they want.

At the same time, the new owner was evaluating FindGuru in relation to its strategies for the new freestanding b-to-b media company. “We looked at it carefully, and it doesn’t fit our vision,” said Advantage CEO Rich Reiff. “Search remains a critical component of our strategy, though, and we will continue to invest in it.”

Although the FindGuru site will remain live for a period of time, Advantage will cease all new investment in it while it explores its options, Reiff said. “We are preparing an offering to sell it, complete with a summary business plan that details the investment required,” he said.

Reiff said that If a buyer is not found, FindGuru will be shut down within a month or so.

A staff of four is currently dedicated to FindGuru. “We will work to keep those people,  if possible, because we are putting a greater emphasis on our electronic business,” Reiff added. “Their skills are certainly transferable.”

Reiff projected that about 12% of Advantage’s revenue will come from digital in 2006. “I could see that rising to 16% to 20% in 2007,” he said. “It could be 25% to 30% of our revenue by 2009.”

One of the moves the company is making in that direction is the creation of an e-business development team, which will be headed by Matt Lally, publisher of Scientific Computing. Lally, who has been with the organization for 15 years, will continue in his Scientific Computing role until his replacement is found.

Reiff emphasized that e-media will not be kept in a silo at Advantage. “Our sales people will continue to sell all media as part of an integrated approach,” he said.

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