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BigBook announces new president

Changing its executive lineup and expanding services to attract new business and revenue, BigBook names Woodson Hobbs as its new president and CEO.

BigBook has made some big changes to its executive lineup and is expanding its services to grow the business, attract new users, and increase its revenue.

Woodson Hobbs was named president and chief executive officer. Kris Hagerman, BigBook's founder and former CEO, becomes chairman of the board and has also been named president of BigBook Direct, a new division of the company. The division focuses on network marketing as a channel for selling BigBook's online advertising products to small businesses.

The company's is ramping up its telemarketing channel to boost clients in the small business arena, and Hagerman said BigBook needed "a black belt in operations" to keep things running smoothly, which is where Hobbs steps in. "We are selling a ton of products, and now we need the operational and service foundation," he said.

Hobbs was previously chief information officer at Charles Schwab and president and CEO of Internet Profiles (i/PRO).

Standing out in a sea of online yellow page sites is the ultimate goal, but Hobbs said the company is building its content and expanding its services before undertaking a big marketing push.

"You have to have the content to get people to the site. You have to have interesting and useful content," he said. And the company is aiming to offer a strong business listing along with maps. "Ease of use and value of content is what it is all about."

And being able to support the content is priority number one. "If we can build our infrastructure, then it doesn't matter what our competitors do. In the beginning we were running in this race and wondering about our competitors, but it doesn't matter. When we can sell and support our customers, then it doesn't matter what everyone else is doing," said Hagerman.

Hobbs noted that BigBook will offer more information with search results; for example, a listing of restaurants can include maps and directions, and a feedback form.

The company offers a product that allows businesses to change their listings daily. Eventually, BigBook will allow users to order food and merchandise at its Web site.

BigBook also hopes to expand its revenue stream. For now, the primary revenue generator is the fees from listing companies--just like conventional yellow pages. "But in 2001 it could shift to include percentage of revenue generated from ecommerce deals. It's not happening yet, but it is going to happen," said Hobbs.

To respond to the company's growth, BigBook has added several other key players to its organization, including leading professionals in the network marketing and technology industries. In addition, the company will recruit executives to lead the technology, operations, and finance areas, in addition to its efforts to fill a host of new positions in engineering, marketing, finance, and sales.

"In the world of problems to have, growth is one of the nicer ones," said Hagerman.

Hobbs just completed his first full week on the job at BigBook.