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What next for Answers.com?

Posted By Karin Kloosterman On February 17, 2011 @ 12:00 am In | No Comments

Acquisition of the world’s most popular Q&A site by Summit Partners will further fuel the website’s quest to become the ultimate destination for answers.

Twelve years of answering reader’s questions, has made Answers.com the 22nd most popular site on the Net today.

Could aliens blow up the Internet? And if they did, should we be worried? Where did the Brisbane flood start? Why did President Mubarak resign in Egypt?

All of us have questions that need to be answered. Far-fetched or down to earth, out of sheer curiosity or for a school project, these are some of the recent ones posed on the world’s most popular Q&A site, Answers.com.

Based in Jerusalem, Israel and New York, the company and its URL comprise one of the most popular pieces of Internet real estate in the world — currently at spot 22 in the United States. Via its wiki-format question-and-answer guides, the company lets users log in and upload their content and then share it on Facebook or Twitter. It also employs a staff of experts to generate expert content.

After more than 10 years in the business, the NASDAQ-traded company announced earlier this month that it will be sold for $127 million to the equity investor Summit Partners. AFCV Holdings, a Summit portfolio company, will acquire all the outstanding shares of Answers.com common stock in a deal that is expected to go through by the second quarter of 2011.

Hundreds of millions of page views

As one of the world’s largest Q&A sites, with 10-plus million questions and answers posted by the end of 2010, each month the company generates about 260 million page views from its 90 million or so unique visitors.

The website includes content on literally millions of topics and provides information from 250 dictionaries and encyclopedias from leading publishers such as Houghton Mifflin, Barron’s, and Encyclopedia Britannica. It supports questions and answers in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Tagalog (Filipino).

Without divulging too many details, CEO and chairman Bob Rosenschein tells ISRAEL21c that he expects the mission of Anwers.com to stay the same.

Is content king again?

“Answers.com will be the best place for answers on the Internet. The company expects to continue to generate a good return for its shareholders, which will also be good for the company,” Rosenschein says.

Founder and CEO of Answers.com Bob Rosenschein.

“This agreement is also a positive [one] for our community members. The integrity and commitment of our company to our products remain unchanged, as we continue our mission of creating the ultimate destination for answers,” he adds.

Not long before the announcement from Answers.com, news was also released of the sale of one of the world’s most popular online properties, The Huffington Post, which was acquired by AOL for $315 million. This suggests that after a couple of years of waning interest, content sites might be regaining their crown as “king” of the Internet.

Just like The Huffington Post, which relies on blog content from users, Answers.com relies largely on content generated by the community. Revenues are earned mainly through advertising.

Its in-house software, 1-Click Answers, which works on Windows and Mac OS platforms, lets readers click on any word on the screen to get an instant explanation.

A decade of questions

Founded in 1999, Answers.com has 88 employees, revenues of more than $20 million and profits of about $1.5 million each year. Founded by Rosenschein, 56, and owned by GuruNet, the company has seen the ups and downs of the Internet business over the last 10 years, almost running out of money at one point.

Answers.com went public on the NASDAQ exchange in 2004 for $5 a share, and shareholders will receive more than double that in the acquisition transaction. As of yet, there is no indication of what Summit Partners plans to do with its new Anwsers.com property.

We could ask Answers.com for that answer, perhaps. And for those curious: Could aliens blow up the Internet? Answers.com provides a response that should keep us at ease: “Even if the global economy and our lives are open to the appetite of alien forces, the vital interests of the Earth would be protected.”


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