myGeek Finds Its Way
Dot-Com-Era Survivor Altered Its Own Search
The Arizona Republic
April 1, 2004 12:00 AM
When MyGeek.com started during the dot-com boom, consumers were entranced by the idea of shopping on the Internet and using the company's Web site to search out sellers of hard-to-find items.
But as many budding Internet companies learned, driving consumers to your site can cost a fortune in advertising, even if you're getting a cut of every sale.
Phoenix-based MyGeek.com dropped its shopping service in 2000, but it never gave up on the idea of using technology to improve how people search the Internet.
It spent two years helping businesses get into search engines, then started looking at the future.
"We looked at the gut-wrenching question of . . . how do we get to the next level with Google and Overture so huge, and with having to fight the rest of the mid-tier?" said Chad Little, founder and "chief geek" of MyGeek.com.
Rather than fight for advertisers' attention, MyGeek decided to provide its technology to search sites, marketing agencies, advertising networks and others that link businesses to the search engines of the world.
The company has spent two years revising its business model, developing two new products and signing new clients. MyGeek.com is one of the Valley's few survivors of the dot-com era. It's been profitable since 2002, Little said, and is projecting the new products will quadruple revenue this year to between $5 million and $15 million.
The Phoenix company is in the business of "paid search," a hot area now that search engines like Google and Yahoo! get so much traffic. Businesses want to be among the first few sites that pop up in an Internet search.
"It is direct marketing at its best," Little said. "It gets consumers when they are looking."
MyGeek's new products are called AdOn Direct and AdOn Network.
AdOn Direct allows businesses to create and manage their own accounts with search sites like Netster, SearchHippo and Ditto.com. The business can select its keywords, set its bidding price for those keywords, and get an estimate of how much traffic it will draw. The business pays only for consumers who click through to its site, and MyGeek gets a percentage of each click.
AdOn Network gives businesses advertising with one search-site access to others in MyGeek's 40-client network.
MyGeek's technology worked out well for SearchHippo. It "saved us from the development time, customer-service costs and accounting headaches that we would have dealt with creating our own solution from scratch," founder Kevin Marcus said.
The products are taking off. MyGeek's technology is handling nearly 30 million queries a day, and the company is adding servers every week to handle the flow, Little said.
Little thinks there are still plenty of opportunities in the search business.
"It's about what's new and next, and there is so much room in this market," he said. "It's just beginning."
Longtime followers of MyGeek needn't worry that it has changed completely, though
Little and his fellow geeks still have the thick-framed, taped-up eyeglasses and the pastel-colored tuxedoes that made them a hit at high-tech shindigs in the heyday.