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Switchboard Hangs Up On AOL

Banyan Systems Inc. today announced it will not renew its White Pages contract between its subsidiary Switchboard Inc. and America Online Inc.

Switchboard said it estimates that AOL's white pages customers account for approximately 35 percent of its overall traffic and 20 percent of its total advertising revenues.

Citing reasons for pulling out of AOL, William P. Ferry, Banyan's chairman and chief executive officer, said: "The battle for traffic, reach and repeat users continues to intensify among the major Internet portals and the importance of directory services drove AOL and Switchboard to revisit their relationship."

"Over the course of our discussions with AOL, it became clear that a restructured White Pages relationship would reduce Switchboard's traffic reach and overall branding and promotion at a substantially greater cost. Therefore, Switchboard will focus its resources on expanding its own white pages base of branded traffic and loyal users."

The company said it will focus on other portal partnerships to further its advertising reach and also focus on its own Web site offerings.

The companies' contract, which expires at the end of November 1998, calls for Switchboard to provide its White Page directory services to AOL. Switchboard also provides AOL with Yellow Pages, and AdStudio Web publishing technologies. Switchboard said it is reviewing its AOL relationship to continue providing these services. In addition, AOL still holds a 10% equity interest in Switchboard.

"Additionally, we continue to pursue new strategic relationships that can increase traffic and further build the Switchboard brand such as our alliance with Alta Vista, our recently launched white pages partnership with Bell Atlantic's BigYellow site and the acquisition of Lucent's MapsOnUs mapping operation in May."



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