Search and Local Directories Pioneer and Kelsey Group "Technologist of the Year" to Lead Innovation and Expansion of Company's Consumer and Business Products
Autobytel Inc. (Nasdaq:ABTL) today announced that Mark Canon has been named to the newly created position of chief product officer. Canon, a founder of one of the largest and most influential local Search and directory sites, Switchboard.com, and former vice president of product strategy and development for AOL Search, is charged with creating and enhancing Autobytel's consumer and business products to put the Company at the forefront of the automotive online vertical.
"Mark is a true visionary who literally pioneered the local online directory space. He drove an extensive series of product innovations in the Search and video arena, and was among the first in the industry to recognize and harness the power of Search Engine Optimization to build significant consumer traffic," said Autobytel President and CEO Jim Riesenbach. "His creative drive, combined with his insight into online consumer behavior, will be critical to the innovations we intend to bring to the Automotive Internet."
A specialist in data-driven consumer experience management, Canon previously served as vice president of product development for AOL Search where he was responsible for overall product strategy and development of products used by over 30 million AOL service and web users monthly. At AOL, Canon oversaw the creation and implementation of an ongoing series of product innovations in Search, video, local, eCommerce, and social networking, leading an extensive team of product and technology talent in the US, Europe and India. At Switchboard, Mark was a primary founder and product innovator behind a site that grew to become the leading local online yellow pages and white pages directory. He was also an early pioneer in creating highly optimized content for Internet Search Engines, making Switchboard one of the first large Internet sites to do high volume Search Engine Marketing.
"Mark brings years of developing and launching products that are at the nexus of consumer behavior and commercial opportunity, which is exactly where Autobytel will be focused as it works to bring the next generation of pro-consumer products to the automotive Internet user and expanded media-centric offerings to auto dealers," said Riesenbach.
In 2003, Canon was named Technologist of the Year by the Kelsey Group who recognized him as "a key architect of the future of the yellow pages industry."
"In a very short amount of time, Mark has made significant contributions to almost every aspect of the technology, product experiences and business models of local Search on the Internet," said Kelsey Group Senior Vice President Neal Polachek. "Mark's ability to analyze, articulate and translate ideas from concept to product will continue to benefit consumers and retailers now and in the future."
"I believe that the automotive Internet is ripe for innovation and that Autobytel is uniquely positioned to lead that charge," said Canon. "The opportunity I see to create a richer consumer experience, and the synergies we can leverage with Autobytel's strong dealer network, will, I believe, result in a game-changing experience for online automotive consumers."
During his eight years at Switchboard.com, Canon developed a directory distribution strategy that led to the syndication of Switchboard's directory products in 200+ US newspapers; managed key revenue relationships with AOL, Google, Bell South, and SBC among others; and grew the site audience to over 25 million unique visitors a month. Previously, he was manager of electronic content products for Banyan Systems and operations manager for Strategix Inc.
About Autobytel Inc.
Autobytel Inc. (Nasdaq:ABTL) is one of the largest online automotive marketplaces, empowering consumers to make smart vehicle choices using objective automotive data and insightful interactive editorial content. The result is a convenient car-buying process backed by a nationwide network of dealers who are committed to providing a positive consumer experience. Every day consumers choose Autobytel-owned and operated websites -- Autobytel.com, Autoweb.com, CarSmart.com, Car.com, AutoSite.com, Autoahorros.com, and CarTV.com -- to facilitate their car-shopping decisions. Autobytel's ability to attract millions of highly qualified, in-market car buyers and connect them with retailers has made it a leader in facilitating the entire customer car-buying lifecycle.
The Company's innovative marketing, advertising, data and CRM products, including its Web Control(R) customer management system, Retention Performance Marketing (RPM(R)) service reminder program, Special Finance Leads(SM), and AIC(R) data center, are designed to enable dealers to offer a premium consumer experience. Since pioneering pro-consumer online automotive content and purchasing in 1995, Autobytel has helped more than twenty-seven million car buyers, generating billions of dollars in car sales for dealers.