Tag - canpages

Free agent

Well, as of this morning, I’m officially a free agent again.

I’ve been working for the last year and a half at Canpages with the goal of reinventing Canpages.ca: turning it into a modern local discovery experience for people who want to find services, products, entertainment, and help close to home. We had an amazing plan for the site, working with DDB Canada, and were just about to kick off the build phase with Appnovation for web and mobile, and probably ConquerMobile for iOS.

We had already inked an agreement with Helium for local bloggers – our community ambassadors – in 5 key markets, and were about to increase that to 50 or more. And I had an amazing proposal from Gigya that was going to allow us to not only build our site for social, but enable an awesome gamification platform – not the fake, glued-on kind, but one built solidly around actual, normal, useful user actions, and resulting in real, tangible benefits for users.

It was a beautiful vision. Alas, that’s all it will ever be.

I won’t talk much about the SEO miracles we pulled off, extracting 3.5M uniques a month from an ancient, tired, creaking old website with very few updates over the past few years. Or the integrated mobile vision I planned: use whatever app, device, or web browser you want … it’s the same local search experience, optimized for your screen and your device, still knowing who you are, what your preferences and favorites are, and what you’re most interested in.

The fact remains that with the tough situation our corporate parent Yellow Pages Group is in right now as they transition from print to digital, it didn’t make sense to have competing entities in the marketplace … both scrounging for resources in development and marketing. So Canpages is essentially shut down. We got the requests for early morning meetings yesterday afternoon, and today we came to the office for the execution.

I have had such a wonderful time with so many amazing people: Colin, my boss, in web and marketing … Cathy, a marketing whiz with endless patience and sense of duty … Nicole, Daniel, Jennifer, Kim, Ivica in shipping (no more chats about the Canucks’ last game, Ive, sorry), Jason, Rick & Sue, sales managers for the east and west, respectively, Brandon, Melissa, Gabriel, Luc, and many, many more.

Well, it happens. Thanks, Nic (VP for web and mobile for YPG) for an exciting ride. Thanks YPG for the opportunity.

What’s next?

I’m writing a book, I’ve got a few ideas for my own business, and I’m going to beat the bushes for another great opportunity.

If you hear of one, let me know!

Local search, plus mobile, plus a dash of social

Just a few short days ago (it seems) I posted my swan song to EasyBits Software. But I didn’t give any precise details on where I was going …

So, for those who haven’t seen it on my LinkedIn account, yes, I have joined Canpages! Canpages is exciting for me for a bunch of reasons.

First of all, it’s back to the web. That’s my first love, that’s what I’m passionate about, and that’s what I eat, breathe, drink. The reality is: installable software is getting less and less important. More and more intelligence and also computing capacity is transferring to the cloud. So that was an important consideration.

Secondly, it’s mobile and social. Canpages has several iPhone apps and a BlackBerry app … and in fact one of the first things I’m working on here is apps. More on that soon from Canpages.ca – look for the press releases! We’re already social with a number of different web properties that we own, and it’s only going to increase. Again, can’t give any more details here and now, but look for big things in the near and medium-term future.

Third, Canpages is local search. Local search is the holy grail right now. It’s what Yelp and Facebook and Bing and Google and Yahoo! and FourSquare and so many other companies are working on. And guess what: Canpages is leading the industry in Canada, and with some of the things in our pipeline, we’re going to grow our presence and capabilities substantially.

That’s the other major part of what I’m working on: canpages.ca, the website. The user experience, the UI, the traffic strategies, the conversion rates … the product. I’ll also be managing several of our other web properties, GigPark, ZipLocal, and Urban Pill.

Finally, coming out of a very lean start-up scenario, not having to manage the HR stuff, the benefits, the finance, etc. etc. etc., and just being able to wear the product hat … it feels good. I feel like I can focus on the things that I care most about.

So: looking forward to what we can do here. Stay tuned!