Gale Group: Breaking Through Content Barriers

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MORTON: My group manages the content going out beyond the library set. We've been talking about sort of traditional resellers with a traditional corporate intranet market. [In the] Internet space, there are examples that we've included, like LookSmart and WebMD. That market is not as strong as it was, obviously, so we're not finding a lot more there, but we are looking to help the search engines more. We've had conversations with a number of the search engines because of the authority file I've mentioned and the breadth and the depth and the quality of our data.

We're also looking to expand abroad into other countries, starting with English language ones, but going beyond that. We had some conversations with some of the software houses for the value of the reference content that we have, which may help a lot of consumer software packages.

We are looking for expansion into the PDA market and wireless market, though the depth of our content doesn't play well into that very shallow receiver. But the more the world gets wired, the more people will want our content. We're completely comfortable and confident about that. There's a lot of value in timeliness, and you see that in the investment banking markets, but then secondarily, on a different dimension, there's lot of value in depth, breadth, and being well-organized-[with the] emphasis on "well-organized." There's been a lot of business and lot of hooha in the world, particularly on the Internet, about depth and breadth, without the well-organized part. We've done a nice business already, and we've been careful about picking our partners, but the world is coming back to us, for-after depth and breadth-well-organized content.

ECONTENT: For certain customers you're, in effect, selling content management?

MORTON: Yes, for every one our clients. Everything we do is customized.

ECONTENT: Speaking of PDAs, that topic came up a little earlier, and you said it's tough to stuff such rich content into a PDA. Will you do anything to streamline it for PDAs?

MORTON: Well, there are always abstracts. We have one client who's been experimenting in that area, but it's hard for us to know. We'll have to see the retrieving [of content] through the airwaves work a lot faster than it is right now and the screens having higher clarity. We're going to keep trying.

PASCHAL: The other thing I think you'll see is richer content in terms of audio and video, and that's really a function of bandwidth.

ECONTENT: Are you saying you might get into the audio and video parts of it?

PASCHAL: We will definitely deliver the appropriate content that matches up as part of our product base.

MORTON: At this point, we're not just text-based. We also have images, static images so far, but what Allen is talking about is the next layer of adding streaming audio or video. We're already at that stage.

ECONTENT: Has the Web-based business been mined pretty well? Or do you think there's a lot more to go in that?

PASCHAL: If you recall the early days of television, there were more than three major television networks. There were several very obscure networks that appeared out there that ultimately couldn't compete and disappeared, and I think we're just seeing a natural contraction after a fairly excitable and unnatural expansion. I think things will normalize a little bit. For example, I think the Web will be a very viable advertising medium. It's just not going to be as large or as big as people predicted.

MORTON: We know through our relationships that there are very profitable areas of the business. If you think about the things that we said before, if you can get people stuck on reading something that's really valuable to them, they'll spend of lot of time in front of it, and that's what monetizes Internet content.

ECONTENT: How far out do you plan? Do you have five-year plans, or is that too far ahead these days?

PASCHAL: That's pretty far ahead any day. We obviously do a lot of soothsaying to make sure we're going in the right direction, but we typically take three-year snapshots.

ECONTENT: Can you tell us your goals three years down the road then? What kind of information landscape are we likely to see as far as Gale is concerned?

PASCHAL: We refer to Gale as the knowledge behind the Internet. At least the more valuable quality part of the Internet, that's growing and has been growing dramatically as other players have discovered the value to our processes and our vocabulary. So I see a great expansion there. I think the main thing that we'll see is a movement of the Gale brand and content from our traditional [markets] into the home. We've got kids using us at school. We've got kids using us in public libraries; at universities, professors using us; and that [content] is now available through those institutions directly to wherever they're sitting, whether it's on a PDA or in a dorm room. I think we'll see increased branding and an expansion of our share of the market mind-set.

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