A couple of days ago I got an email from someone (not at IAC) telling me that CityGrid CEO Jason Finger had resigned. Then I received another email from a different person saying the decision had been made “months ago.”
I interviewed Finger together with LSA President Neg Norton on stage at the recent LSA conference in Las Vegas (here’s a video backstage interview the LSA did). I was impressed with Finger’s comments and analysis of the local market. Thus I was surprised to hear about this development.
This morning I spoke to yet another person and got some more information. Here’s my paraphrase of some of the things I was told:
- CityGrid and Citysearch are struggling (to retain and deliver value to advertisers)
- Citysearch was characterized to me as having lost so much momentum that it was effectively “dead”
- CityGrid and associated properties (InsiderPages, Citysearch, Urbanspoon) are being reorganized, with an announcement to come soon
- I was also told that IAC had tried unsuccessfully to sell CityGrid (possibly Citysearch as well) but that didn’t happen
This is hearsay so be cautious. But most of these comments had the ring of truth.
Citysearch was once the equivalent of what Yelp is today: the main source of local business reviews online. Then it was surpassed by Yelp and later redesigned and repositioned (apparently unsuccessfully) as a “local recommendations” site.
On the B2B services and advertiser side of local, the market is highly fragmented and intensely competitive — with lots of companies and no big “winners.” However on the consumer side it seems increasingly driven by a few big brands capturing most of the traffic and a very long tail of smaller sites, apps and publishers.
If the above comments are accurate it marks the unfortunate and perhaps irreversible decline of CityGrid, which was originally a brilliant reinvention of the local business at IAC.