LookSmart Renews Road Runner Agreement

Search provider LookSmart announced Thursday that it had signed an expanded search agreement with AOL Time Warner’s high-speed cable Internet provider, Road Runner.

The deal renews the February 2000 agreement San Francisco-based LookSmart had with Road Runner, a division of Time Warner Cable, to provide paid listings. Now, though, LookSmart will take over editorial search services offered to Road Runner’s 2.6 million customers on its homepage, thanks to its acquisition of search provider WiseNut in April 2002 for $9.25 million in stock.

“Road Runner’s been a terrific partner and we’re proud to continue our relationship,” said Brian Cowley, LookSmart’s senior vice president of business development.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

While Road Runner is relatively small potatoes in the search-services world, the deal might show the shift in the search industry from providers specializing in either paid listings or editorial search to a new hybrid model of a full search solution.

After LookSmart’s WiseNut acquisition, paid listings pioneer Overture Services followed suit with two blockbuster deals for AltaVista and FAST Search and Transfer’s Web search unit. With the deals, Overture can compete head to head with Google, which has complemented its editorial search dominance with a paid listings network of 100,000 advertisers and deals with AOL, AskJeeves and EarthLink.

LookSmart has search deals with a variety of portals and ISPs, including MSN, About.com, and CNET’s Search.com.

In January, LookSmart reported its first-ever profitable quarter, in large part on the back of its paid-listings business, which grew 126 percent from the same period a year earlier.

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