LookSmart Buys Furl — The Search Stickiness Battles Are On

from the didn't-see-that-one-coming... dept

Well, look at that. Just yesterday, we were pointing out how Ask Jeeves was adding features to store and annotate the websites you like and asked if people wouldn’t just prefer to use an independent offering like Furl, rather than be tied down to a specific search property. Whoops. Forget we said that. Furl has just announced (no news sites have it yet, but we’re including the text of the email after the jump) that they’ve been acquired by Looksmart, the also-ran paid-search, paid-inclusion search engine provider. So, this is yet another search provider trying to increase stickiness by letting users do more with their search results. They’re also offering five gigs of storage. If you hadn’t realized it yet, this space is getting more interesting every day.

Dear Furl Members,

Tomorrow we will be making an official announcement that Furl has been  
acquired. However, we wanted you to be the first to hear the news. We  
are joining LookSmart, a provider of Web search and research-quality  
articles search, in addition to other high-quality search products.

This is exciting news for several reasons. First, because LookSmart  
acquired Furl for the same reasons you probably use it - it is a great  
service that works well - and LookSmart has no intention of changing  
the things that make it great. On the contrary, LookSmart is committed  
to making existing features even more powerful.

To show how serious that commitment is, we are officially allocating 5  
gigabytes (GB) of storage for each individual member's public archive,  
enough space to store tens of thousands of archived items.

We are also now working on many new features, some of which you may  
have requested. These include a groups feature, and the ability to  
search across all public archives.

You might be wondering whether Furl will continue to be a free  
service, and the answer is: "Yes!" Furl will create revenue through  
the display of relevant, contextual advertising on search and content  
pages. This revenue source enables us to continue offering Furl free  
of charge. It also allows us to keep investing in the service. As Furl  
gets better and better, it attracts more members. They in turn attract  
new advertisers, creating a cycle of growth that benefits our members  
as well as our business.

Some other questions you might have:

* Is my current archive safe? Will I lose any data?
Your archive will not be affected. You should not lose any data in the  
change, but of course you can always use Furl's export tools to back  
your data up if you like to take extra precautions.

* Will I have to install a new toolbar?
No, your current Furl toolbar will continue to function as usual.

* Why did Furl "sell out"?
First of all, we don't really think of this as "selling out." We are  
now employees of LookSmart and are still working on Furl every day (we  
just have a lot more help). The primary reason we sold the company was  
that we have always believed Furl makes the most sense as part of a  
larger search offering. We negotiated with several large public search  
companies and ultimately chose LookSmart. We truly believe this  
acquisition is in the best interest of our members and of the  
long-term longevity of the service. We use Furl, too, and want it to  
continue to grow for many years to come.

To sum it up, Furl is great the way it is. LookSmart is dedicated to  
making it even better. Furl meets a need that is not otherwise being  
filled on the Web, and the more people who use it, the more useful it  
is for everybody. We hope to reach even more members through  
LookSmart's other Web properties, so they, too, can start Furling.

-- Mike Giles
Founder & CEO, Furl

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