There was a time when internet was not available and if people wanted to find out some kind of information they had look into encyclopedias and other kinds of fat books. Looking for information into these books were hectic work as you had to check alphabetically. During those times, the page blanche were pretty famous and this is where people used to look if they had to look for the contact information of any person they wanted. Don’t you remember those fat white books kept beside our telephones with millions of number that some people used to mug up to show off their memory skills? The contact information used to be maintained in alphabetical order with fixed pages for fixed pin codes. You would have had to pay some amount of money if you ever wished to get your information removed from the white pages. Sometimes advertisements were also published in the white pages and these advertisements were published alphabetically. Generally the yellow pages were used for advertisements. You can still get one these directories, if you ask for it.
When a Stanford student was searching for a friend’s number on the white pages and when he contacted the phone company, they gave him the wrong number, he thought of opening an online directory that would carry the contact information of all the people in America. His idea was that the information would be reliable and all people had to do was search for the person who’s contact information they required. So he developed a website called whitepages.com which carries the contact information of everyone in the United States and Canada. This information is used by MSN and USPS.
Alex Algard found whitepages.com in the year 1997, at that time it was just a side activity as he was an investment banker for Goldman Sachs. He bought the domain for nine hundred dollars and moved out of his Goldman Sachs, to work fulltime on his website. Algard then stepped down from the position of CEO of the company to work another startup of his but he returned to the company in the year 2007. In the year 2005 Whitepages.com got a heavy investment of $45 million and MSN also started using their services to gain access to their directories. Other than this their main income comes from advertisements. Sounds a lot like the old fashioned white pages, doesn’t it? Well Whitepages.com had started growing after the hefty investment and their directory database had grown to 180 million by the end of 2007. Whitepages has been mentioned in Deloitte’s 500 fastest growing technology companies , three times.
In 2008 Whitepages acquired VoIP developer Snapvine and they started working on project which would allow the public to control their information on their website, exactly like the traditional paper white pages. They even started on a project where users could be called through the website without giving up their contact information. The company then came up with an api which gave third party users, access to their database.
From 2009 Whitepages started developing apps for various platforms for various uses. They first came up with an app for iOS. They then released a caller ID for Android and Blackberry. They then started to bring out apps that would allow the users to add themselves or remove themselves from the directory. The users were even given the power to edit their information. Whitepages then went on to redesign their app to make it cleaner and friendlier.
They then started to move on to new projects which saw then adding a local business locator or store finder and then they went on to develop something like Groupon, except for the fact that these deals were available nationwide and were for a limited period. This new venture was called Dealpop but was sold to Tippr the next year.
In the year 2011 Whitepages released the Localicious App, but it was released on Android first due to Apple’s slow approval rate for iPhone’s apps. Whitepages PRO was released after this and this was then followed by the release of the caller ID app for android called Current Caller ID. This was released in the month of August 2012. Within a year it was one of the most used android apps and 5 billion calls and texts had been transferred using this app. It was updated in 2013 and after this update, users had the power to customize the call option depending on the other users and they also had an option to like facebook posts from within the app itself. In the month of June, 2013 Whitepages acquired a number blocking app for android called Mr. Number.
Whitepages has various other lines of business as you have already seen and they are one fast growing company, being vastly used by people all over the world. It has made the lives of millions of people easy. People don’t have to look through the white pages of telephone directories anymore, but they can find a person by looking up their number on the website or app, or you can find the number by looking up their name on the website or app. This has saved us from a lot of time and as the database is acquired from the contacts of its various users or the users only update the databases therefore the information is way more reliable that the traditional white pages. It has saved us a lot of time and energy and now the data can be stored in minute chips compare to the 3000 paged books before.
Other than the primary lines of business Whitepages have many other domains like 411.com, mobile apps, data verification, etc. White pages has about 50 million different visitors per and receive search requests of about 2 billion per month and they also partner with Switchboard and Address.com for their databases. It consists of data of about 90% of the US adult population and its databases can be checked from 7 websites and 10 mobile apps!