They must have known I’m a Cal guy: Looksmart has done a deal with Berkeley for an “Affinity” search portal, along the lines of affinity credit cards, etc.You use their search engine, and a portion of the proceeds benefit Cal sports (they need the help!). Not a bad idea, but if anything says “commodity” it’s this kind of deal. In any case, the details are here, and here’s a summary from their PR folk:
Looksmart is pioneering “affinity search” with Cal, applying the same principles that business organizations such as the credit card company, MBNA, which has developed credit cards that will directly give back $$ to the specific group (such as the Sierra Club, etc.). By identifying groups of avid supporters (college alumni, fans, students, members of conservation organizations, etc) who will switch from Google or Yahoo to search on a site that produces revenue for the organization or a cause they’re passionate about, the “affinity program” brings $$ back to the group. As an example, MBNA has been able to recruit 5,000 organizations and 12 million cardholders with this approach. This is the first program of its kind in the nation where a higher education institution has tried this sort of partnership.