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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

July 14, 2009 at 5:00 AM

WhitePages launches $2.5 million overhaul

Making a big bet on continued growth, Seattle-based WhitePages.com sank $2.5 million into a complete rebuild of its site, including new hardware, database, networking and a complete migration to the Ruby on Rails platform.

The widely used online directory had a soft launch of its new site on July 1 and is formally launching today.

New WhitePages Webite.jpg

It’s highlighting new features such as the ability of people to enter and modify their contact information, part of a larger effort by the company to facilitate connections between users of the site. It calls the strategy “Connectory,” a blend of directory and connector.

Growth at the ad-funded business has slowed a bit, but with the investments “we feel we’re positioned to take advantage of economic recovery when it happens,” said John Lusk, vice president of marketing.

Already, WhitePages.com is one of the most successful Web ventures in the city. It’s been profitable since it was incorporated in 2000, after evolving from a dorm room project in 1996 when founder Alex Algard was at Stanford University.

WhitePages carries directory information of more than 200 million people and handles more than 2 billion searches, directly and through the sites of partners such as Verizon, AOL and MSN.

Lately it has been pushing hard into the mobile space, with applications for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry platforms.

The company employs 134. It cut eight positions last November but it’s on track to add another eight and 17 contractors by the end of 2009, Lusk said.

Comments | More in | Topics: Startups, startups, Web

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