RealTime IT News

Looksmart Looks Bigger with Extra Funding

Australian-born search engine Looksmart has returned down under for AUS$95 million (US$60 million) in venture capital before an expected listing on the Australian Stock Exchange.

The San Francisco-based company is also trumpeting a win in the popularity stakes over rivals Yahoo! and Alta Vista in the Australian market, although it may be short lived.

The equity injection for the company came from large Australian investors like Macquarie Bank, Citicorp Equity Capital Limited and Consolidated Press Holdings.

This last investor, controlled by Aussie media baron Kerrie Packer, is also owner of ninemsn, the joint Internet venture between Microsoft and Australia's largest television station, the Nine Network. The new investment comes soon after Looksmart announced a deal with the Microsoft Network in the US to become its premier search provider.

The total capital raised by Looksmart now totals AUS$125.9 million (US$79.2 million), which the company said would help it "forge further strategic partnerships, build advertising sales activities and finance Looksmart's massive brand marketing campaign."

Future improvements to the looksmart.com site include an interface teak, the addition of a "personal investor channel", and expansion of its e-commerce shopping areas.

Looksmart also claimed that it had "overtaken" Yahoo! and Alta Vista to "become Australia's number one Web directory," citing results from metrics site Top 100 Australia. While Top 100's site is still not out of its beta stage and is not publicly available, the only existing metric source on the subject, Where did we go?, did place Looksmart at number 8 ahead of Yahoo! at 10 and Alta Vista at 17 for the week ended April 2.

However, Looksmart has been trading places with Yahoo! for most of the past month, and has only recently cracked the top 10 at WDWG.