CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

BigBook lets your PC do the walking

A three-month-old company with a dozen employees is planning to let loose its BigBook on the Web on Monday and turn the lucrative Yellow Pages business upside down.

Internet

A three-month-old company with a dozen employees is planning to let loose its BigBook on the Web on Monday and turn the lucrative Yellow Pages business upside down.

The BigBook Web site, which is set to go live today, will combine directory listings for all 11 million businesses in the United States with street-level maps, third-party reviews of restaurants and other businesses, and a rating system that lets consumers tell other one another which businesses to flock to and which to avoid. The service will be free to consumers and local businesses.

You could use the BigBook to find a dry cleaner within a mile of your house that's open on Saturdays and takes personal checks. Or do the same thing for the city where you'll be staying on a business trip next week and then print out a map of how to get there.

The idea, hatched by BigBook CEO and former product manager for Silicon Graphics (SGI), Kris Hagerman, is to provide a Web-based service that everyone will find useful and to provide competition to the Baby Bells for their Yellow Pages business, a business that Hagerman says generates $10 billion a year in revenue.

"We think it's kind of fun to compete against monopolies," said Hagerman. "Consumers don't like their phone companies, and local businesses don't like how their Yellow Pages advertising is handled. So we come in and offer something free to businesses, free to consumers, and with a lot of value added to consumers. And whammo--we've just put the whole Yellow Pages industry on its ear."

The company will run on advertising sales to large national advertisers who can target their ads by both topic and geography, Hagerman said.

In addition to helping consumers, Hagerman hopes that BigBook will help small businesses establish a Web presence even if they can't afford to set up their own Web servers. Although BigBook is not designed to let users make transactions directly from the directory, it will eventually guide users to related sites where they can order pizza or other products and services over the Net, Hagerman said.

Hagerman got the idea when he was working at SGI and trying to convince telephone companies to use SGI machines for their Web servers. He couldn't convince any to set up a free, and arguably superior, competitor to the traditional print product. But he did manage to persuade his former employee to donate the server hardware and attract investments from Web developer Organic Online and venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates.

Close
Drag
Autoplay: ON Autoplay: OFF