NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Information is a hot commodity on the Internet.
This goes a long way in explaining the fantastic success of Infospace.com, a company that compiles content services, such as commercial and residential phone numbers, which it syndicates to a network of affiliates like Yahoo! and Lycos.
CNNfn spoke with Infospace.com founder and Chief Executive Officer Naveen Jain about the dynamics of his company's success and where it will be heading in 1999 and beyond.
Here is his "Business Day" interview:
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNNfn ANCHOR: Give us an idea why this is valued so highly on Wall Street right now. You're just basically providing information. But it is a commodity in terms of what the web sites really offer now.
NAVEEN JAIN, CHAIRMAN, CEO & FOUNDER, INFOSPACE.COM: John, what we really do here is that we offer the real world content that you and I are likely to use in our day-to-day life. So things like White Pages, Yellow Pages, classified, horoscope, stock quotes, news -- the things that we use in a day-to-day life -- what we have done is made the web to be real life-centric.
Not only that, we provide this information under our brand name Infospace.com. You can also find this information on 1,500 plus Web sites at America Online (AOL), Netscape (NSCP), Wall Street Journal, and ABC local television stations, CBS (CBS) local television stations.
In addition to that, our information is also available on Internet appliances such as cellular phones, screen phones, pagers or any other way you can access the Internet, you can probably access Infospace.
DEFTERIOS: And Naveen, you have an interesting spin here. You think in the future the way into the Web will not be through the major portals. You think it's going to be more narrowly focused. In fact, you use the example of the news sites for local TV stations or fn.com. Why is that?
JAIN: I think what's really happening is the portals are, what I call very horizontal. They have a lot of breadth but no depth. And that's why the emergence of vertical portals
are coming around.
That means people are focused much more on a special area whether it's a financial site or whether it's a sports site. And it really plays well with valuable Infospace.com content, utilitarian content. Even a sports site needs to have a utilitarian content like finding a sports store so users can go find a sports store near them, which is nothing but Yellow Pages.
DEFTERIOS: Exactly what do you offer that a AOL or Lycos does not want to do? Is this something that's really truly value-added for the web user?
JAIN: There are several things. First of all, our technology itself is extremely unique
and second, this technology is not only not easily duplicable, we take the content from over 100 different information providers. And our technology allows us to integrate the information as if it came from a single provider.
So, if you're just looking for a person -- and most people will stop right there. Our technology begins there. So now you can find a map of where a person lives, get the address, how to get there from the airport.
You can find an Italian restaurant within one mile of a person's house. Find a place to stay, check out the things to do, the places to go, and all the information is contextually related.
And that's the reason why people come to our site. They get an average of 25 page views per visit while the industry average is four to six. And that proves not only our technology is working, the users are getting what they want.
DEFTERIOS: Your stock is up better than 200 percent since going public five weeks ago. Are you a little bit worried that we're starting to see the air come out of the Internet bubble?
JAIN: In fact, we never focus on the stock. Our job is to build the shareholder value by building the company, by building the things that people want. And we will continue to generate the revenue through giving the users what they want, when they want, anytime they want.