I’m not certain right now whether this is an interim or a “permanent” appointment. However I received word from IAC that Ron LaPierre is now the CEO of CityGrid Media, taking over from Jason Finger who “resigned” officially last week.
LaPierre served as the president of shopping engine PriceGrabber. He was also with Overture and the Walt Disney Company in the past. LaPierre has also been a long-time consultant working with clients such as Microsoft, Milo and Become.com. In his LinkedIn profile LaPierre emphasizes “senior level relationships in the media, entertainment and technology sectors — including top companies such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, eBay, AOL, Comcast, IAC, Disney, Sony, NBCUniversal, Paramount and Experian.”
My understanding is that IAC has been trying to sell Citysearch and CityGrid for a long time and has not found a buyer (based on whatever price was being sought). I also understand that a reorg is going to be announced that will separate what had been a cluster of IAC properties under CityGrid: Citysearch, InsiderPages and Urbanspoon.
Apparently the Urbanspoon property is the strongest of the three, though I’m not looking at any traffic data. That’s hearsay information.
The decline of Citysearch is an amazing story. As I said previously, Citysearch was once the equivalent of what Yelp is today: the main source of local business reviews online. It was aggressively challenged by Yelp and was never able to effectively respond.
The story is not unlike the Mapquest-Google Maps story. Mapquest was long neglected by AOL corporate, lost its position as the top mapping site and was never able to regain momentum against Google Maps. Mapquest execs may blame the ability of Google to show its own maps at the top of search results but corporate neglect has more to do with the venerable mapping site’s decline.
So too with Citysearch, which has seen its brand and traffic slowly and then more quickly erode over the past eight or nine years. In some ways CityGrid was a response to the decline of Citysearch. But, apparently, CityGrid was not able to fulfill promises to advertisers and suffered massive churn.
The number I heard was something approaching 20% per month — per month. Again that’s second-hand information but it’s pretty damning.
It’s really not clear what will happen now. The reorg is likely to take place and then perhaps a new, more aggressive effort to sell Citysearch and CityGrid. I suspect that’s why LaPierre has been hired.
But who might want to buy them? And how much are they currently worth?