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Switchboard Launches E-Commerce Program

Switchboard Inc. launched a new program to "provide simple and cost-effective solutions" for business owners to establish an Internet presence, get ready for e-commerce and attain the visibility needed to reach their target markets.

Switchboard is the Internet directory subsidiary of Banyan Systems. The company said it will team with large organizations that have established local merchant relationships to provide a wide array of Internet services to their merchant bases, including the construction, hosting and distribution of Web sites and advertisements in the Switchboard directory and other Switchboard co-branded partner directories.

Switchboard said it will provide a turnkey set of services which will enable a new class of partners to become the source of support for local merchants.

Switchboard already signed a partnership deal with Discover Financial Services, a business unit of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., which offers the Discover Card brands, including Discover Platinum and Private Issue by Discover. Under the terms of the agreement, Discover/NOVUS Network merchants will be offered an opportunity to establish Internet visibility through a variety of Switchboard service and product offerings.

"We are looking forward to aggressively expanding our local merchant base in the coming months, and to providing unique ways for the 4 million users who visit our site each month to find and do business with them," said Dean Polnerow, president of Switchboard. ". . .we plan to become the preferred choice for promoting local businesses on the Internet."

Switchboard.com was one of the first directory services to launch and said it recorded $6.5 million in revenue in 1998, up from just $0.7 million in the previous year, primarily driven by national advertising. To date, Switchboard has attracted over 2.5 million registered users, and represents nearly 65,000 local merchants with a page or more describing their businesses.



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