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You’ve seen them cropping up in various places: email signatures, business cards… even holiday greetings. People are increasingly adding their social networking user names to their traditional contact information. Is it simply self-promotion (follow me on twitter! @keelarobison)? Certainly in many cases, yes. But it’s more than that. Social networking sites have for many people become the hubs of our online personas; the places where we communicate broadly with our friends and colleagues. These sites are also emerging as a preferred means of communication for some, who more regularly check their Facebook inbox than they do their email.

At WhitePages, our mission is to make it fantastically simple for people to connect with confidence. Today we’re announcing that we are adding publicly available social networking user pages to our service, making it even easier for our customers to connect.  Our current “preview” launch provides access to millions of Twitter and Facebook user pages, and in the near future we will be adding significantly to this feature with additional public profiles and social networks. Likewise, anyone who adds or edits their WhitePages member listing is invited to add their social networking links to make it easier for others to reach them via their preferred means of communication.

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It was an exhausting day to be sure, but after a day of attacking invasive ivy, blackberry, and clematis vines that were strangling the trees in Interlaken Park in Seattle, the WhitePages team had a lot to be proud of.  We cleared over 45 trees and six thousand square feet of overgrown hillside and placed mulch there to prevent regrowth until the Friends of Interlaken Park can return later this year to replant native, tree-friendly plants.  We joined over 9,000 volunteers county-wide on September 11th who participated in the United Way of King County Day of Caring, 2009 that helped 270 nonprofit organizations.

Paul rocked out to tunes as he fought the hillside tirelessly, and Devin, Greg and Kevin pretty much looked like they had been run over by a truck at the end of the day.  Somehow mysteriously, Andrea’s shirt managed to stay just-washed white.  And it was good to see that when our community calls, Zoe is willing to go without her heels for a day.  The next week, my arms still looked like I got into an alley fight with a cat (I did not heed the warnings to wear a long sleeve shirt, which clearly was in order given the blackberries).

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As a mom, I have to say: I’m disappointed. But as a product owner for the most popular people search site on the Internet, I’m at least glad that we’re helping people to connect with confidence.

Beyond our expected growth rate, we saw a relatively significant bump in both unique visitors (+7%) and people searches (+10%) in the week leading up to Mother’s Day. Apparently, people don’t know their mother’s addresses and phone numbers. Nice.

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I recently joined WhitePages from a major US mobile carrier, where I was struck by the volume of people who visited the carrier site solely to send a text message from their PC. Obviously it’s great to save money by sending free SMS messages online, but why visit a carrier site when you are limited to sending messages only to their customers? Moreover, in many cases, I don’t know the carrier of my contacts. Sure, I can now use the mobile carrier lookup service on WhitePages.com, and then visit a carrier site or one of the small free text messaging sites online that require you to select the carrier, but that’s a pain. Plus, those smaller txt sites just don’t seem particularly professional or trustworthy.

We decided to make it incredibly easy to connect with everyone by providing free text messaging online, regardless of whether you know the recipient’s cell phone carrier. The site stores your recent outgoing recipients to make texting even faster. We require a one-time free registration with WhitePages to prevent spam and improve the accuracy and depth of our privacy-protected listings.

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The core team for the Email Listings project enjoyed some well-deserved celebration time at the Garage last Friday.   Dave bowled the game of his life, while Keela, Ben and Greg gave Coomer a hard time for his Flock of Seagulls hair.  He countered by making us all feel like grandparents when he genuinely had never heard of the band.  Gene snapped some great pics – a few of which are below.  Congratulations to team Magellan!

Devin with Ben in the background    Professional form  

Steve breaking the rules - with a smile!