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Accoona gets ready to go public
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2007-08-31 14:15

After three years during which it developed and refined its tools in order to compete on the ultra-competitive e-commerce and search engine markets, Accoona Corp., a pioneer in artificial intelligence search technology, is finally entering the realm of the real world - in stock market terms at least. The company is still young, but Accoona could be the surprise challenger in a confrontation with the giant Google which looks like the ultimate fight between David and Goliath. Accoona's targets are focused and its solutions original and creative. Its position on the Chinese market is also strong - a key factor in the web search business, where only four players (Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask) account for approximately 90% of online searches.

For the past three years, the company has been engaged in three primary business lines: online-based lead generation, web search (essentially in the United States, Europe and China) and e-commerce, as a consumer electronics retailer.

 

On August 3rd, 2007, Valentine J. Zammit, Accoona's CEO and President -a former CEO at True North Diversified Companies and at Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt, Inc - officially filed the company's registration statement to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. With a Vice-Chairman who is a member of the board of Director at 24/7 Real Media Inc., a global digital marketing company, Accoona is formally joining a field where it aims to become a leading player of the Internet Business.

 

New partnerships


One of Accoona's main strengths lies in the partnerships it developed on the European and Chinese markets since its creation in February 2004. In China in particular, Accoona has reinforced its position by developing strong links with a number of official government and affiliated sites. Launched in December 2004, at the same time as the American search site accoona.com, Accoona's Chinese search site Accoona.cn has been a successful venture for the company, with Chinese users surfing its Business Search page by the millions.

 

The access provided by Accoona to an index of some 42 million business records - 13 million of which are North American, 18 million European and 11 million Chinese - makes the company a leading player in providing data for Internet users interested to do business with Chinese companies. Alongside its e-commerce activities, Accoona also developed a unique, online-based lead generation business model (the first of its kind in terms of cross-sector approach) called Exchange Place, where advertisers can acquire real-time, qualified and verified consumer leads through a competitive bidding process.

 

Artificial Intelligence


When it comes to Internet companies in general, and search engines in particular, the market is looking for innovative and efficient ways in browsing and searching, as well as for new features that enable the targeting of increasingly complex and demanding requests from users. Accoona's search engine uses a different kind of algorithm that offers three main features in one easy-to-use interface, giving it a comparative advantage towards its competitors, Google included. According to Accoona's web site, the company's artificial intelligence technology "understands the meaning of the query" and can give better results. "The meaning of the query is more important than the query itself."

A new approach to Search

As part of its strategy to strengthen the power of its search engine, the company also developed parameters included in a set of three, state-of-the-art features : an interactive tool called "Super Target Your Search", which enables to focus a search through selectable parameters (publisher, date, persons or companies mentioned, etc.) ; a "one click" search feature, which provides users with web, business and news results on the same results page ; and a multi-lingual search facility in English, Chinese and in the main European languages, for search to be given and exploited in the user's language preference.

Increased traffic


The success of this new approach to search engines is nowhere clearer than in the increasing traffic that can be witnessed on the news search page of Accoona's European portal, accoona.eu, launched in June 2006. The company's partnership with Dun & Bradstreet, a leading provider of global business information, has also enabled the package of articles from newspapers, magazines, press releases, trade journals, niche publications, blogs, and broadcast media in Accoona's news search index to be enriched with a constantly evolving, up-to-date business information and data, spread over dozens of thematic fields.

 

E-commerce


Accoona's strategy in building a strong base of well-informed Internet users is also built around its e-commerce business, mostly in the field of consumer electronics. Accoona now operates six Internet retail websites, an attractive industry in rapid growth where the company holds a strong market position: in 2006, the combined revenues of Accoona's businesses in the field made Accoona one of the top 10 consumer-direct electronics retailers in North America by online revenue, and one of the top 55 consumer electronics retailers overall (according to TWICE's list, "Top 100 CE Retailers").

Multifolded strategy

The ultra competitive world of search engines is harsh and sometimes challenging, and companies like Accoona need to build on alternative, multifolded business strategies to lure users, for example via competitive pricing or by offering fair consumer information. The acquisition by Accoona of several e-commerce companies such as butterfly.com was a clever move, a guarantee not to be swallowed from the upstart by Internet monsters like Google. These e-commerce acquisitions were a way for the company to gain time and reinforce its position, whilst developing other business lines such as Exchange Place or Accoona's Business and News Search, which are now fully operational. As a result, Accoona is now in a position to face the strength of the competition in a world of giants like Google, Yahoo or MSN, which are already listed in the public market.

Exchange Place

Perhaps the most original and creative feature of this strategy is Accoona's Exchange Place, one of the first cross-industry online advertising platform and pay-per-lead bidding system. The success of online lead generation was proven by several online-based lead generation companies for specific sectors, such as home mortgage lending and automobile sales. But Exchange Place's added value comes from the fact that it is designed to be a marketplace where consumers are matched with competing providers of a variety of goods and services across the range of all industry sectors, creating a comprehensive, multi-channel approach to marketing. "While the pay-per-click advertising model has served the online ad industry well, Exchange Place will offer the ultimate cost-per-action solution," Mr. Zammit said. Indeed, by May 31, 2007, Exchange Place had signed up major national advertiser accounts, including Prudential Insurance, Unitirm Direct, General Electric Insurance, making it clear that this strategy was succeeding.

David vs. Goliath


Will Accoona succeed in the web search business, where competition is extremely fierce, and which only a few players dominate? If no one has heard much about Accoona yet, the experience of what it has to offer, such as the News and Business Search pages or the Exchange Place interface is convincing. It looks like, in the near future, Accoona could make some more noise. In the meantime, its mammoth competitors should rightily be wary of the new, upcoming David of the Internet world.

Source:CE.cn 
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