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Zip2 Corp.
FormerlyGlobal Link Information Network (1995–1996)
Company type Private
FoundedNovember 6, 1995 (1995-11-06)
DefunctJuly 28, 2003 (2003-07-28)
(7 years, 8 months and 22 days)
FatePurchased by Compaq Computer
Area served
United States
  • Auto Guide
ParentCompaq Computer (1999–)
Website at the Wayback Machine (archived 2 February 1999)
Footnotes / references

Zip2 Corp. [2] was a company that provided and licensed online city guide software to newspapers. [3] The company was founded in Palo Alto, California as Global Link Information Network, Inc. on November 9, 1995, [4] by Greg Kouri and brothers Elon and Kimbal Musk. Initially, Global Link provided local businesses with an Internet presence, [5]: 61  but later began to assist newspapers in designing online city guides before being purchased by Compaq Computer in 2000.


Elon got the initial business idea from a summer internship in 1994. A Yellow Pages salesman came into his employer's office to pitch buying an online business listing in addition to the traditional listing on the big fat Yellow Page book. [6]

Global Link Information Network, Inc. was incorporated in November 1995 by brothers Elon and Kimbal Musk and Greg Kouri in Palo Alto, California with money raised from a small group of angel investors, [7] [8] [9] plus US$8,000 from Kouri. [10] [5] [11] In Ashlee Vance's biography of Elon Musk, it is claimed that Musks' father, Errol Musk, provided them with US$28,000 during this time, [5]: Ch.4 but Elon Musk later denied this. [7] He later said that his dad provided around 10% of US$200,000 as part of a later funding round. [10]

Initially, Global Link provided local businesses with an Internet presence by linking their services to searchers and providing directions. [5]: 61  Elon Musk combined a free Navteq database with a Palo Alto business database to create the first system. [5]

In 1996, Global Link received US$3 million in investments from Mohr Davidow Ventures and officially changed its name to Zip2. [5] Davidow Ventures changed the fundamental strategy of Zip2 from localised direct to business sales to instead selling national back end software packages to newspapers to build their own directories. [5] Elon Musk was appointed the Chief Technology Officer and Rich Sorkin became the chief executive officer. Zip2 trademarked "We Power the Press" as its official slogan and continued to grow. [5] Zip2 struck deals with The New York Times, Knight Ridder, and Hearst Corporation, [5] and its collaboration with newspapers made it a major component of "the U.S. newspaper industry's response to the online city guide industry", according to the Editor & Publisher. [12]

By 1998, the company had partnered with about 160 newspapers to develop guides to cities, either locally or at full scale. According to chairman and co-founder Elon Musk, twenty of those newspapers led to full-scale city guides. The New York Times reported that Zip2 also provided newspapers with an online directory, calendar, and email alongside their core offering. [13]


Zip2 allowed for two-way communication between users and advertisers. Users could message advertisers and have that message forwarded to their fax machine. Likewise, advertisers could fax users and users could view that fax using specific URLs. [14] [15]

One Zip2 product was called "Auto Guide". AutoGuide connected online newspaper users with local dealership or private party car sellers. [14]

Merger and acquisition attempts

In April 1998, Zip2 attempted to merge with CitySearch, its main competitor. While Musk initially supported the merger, [16] he persuaded the board of directors not to proceed with it. [17] According to The New York Times, the two companies "cited incompatibilities in cultures and technology" as the reason for the merger's failure. [18]

In February 1999, Compaq Computer paid US$305 million to acquire Zip2. Elon and Kimbal Musk, the original founders, netted US$22 million and US$15 million respectively. [19] [20] The company was purchased to enhance Compaq's AltaVista web search engine. [21] [22]


  1. ^ "Termination". Secretary of State of California. July 28, 2003. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
  2. ^ "Amendment". Secretary of State of California. August 19, 1996. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
  3. ^ Outing, Steve (October 24, 1997). "Zip2 Plays Up National Network Card". Editor & Publisher. Archived from the original on December 2, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  4. ^ "Initial Filing". Secretary of State of California. November 6, 1995. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Vance, Ashley (2015). Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. HarperCollins. ISBN  9780062301239.
  6. ^ Mejia, Zameena (July 16, 2018). "How internships helped Elon Musk figure out his future". CNBC. Retrieved February 28, 2024.
  7. ^ a b Strauss, Neil (November 15, 2017). "Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 17, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2017. One thing he claims is he gave us a whole bunch of money to start, my brother and I, to start up our first company [Zip2, which provided online city guides to newspapers]. This is not true," Musk says. "He was irrelevant. He paid nothing for college. My brother and I paid for college through scholarships, loans and working two jobs simultaneously. The funding we raised for our first company came from a small group of random angel investors in Silicon Valley.
  8. ^ Huddlestone Jr., Tom (June 19, 2018). "Elon Musk slept on his office couch and 'showered at the YMCA' while starting his first company". CNBC. Archived from the original on August 18, 2020. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  9. ^ Hull, Dana; Delevett, Peter; Owens, Jeremy C. (August 13, 2012). "Greg Kouri, early investor in PayPal, dies in New York". The Mercury News. Archived from the original on June 2, 2019. Retrieved January 30, 2021.
  10. ^ a b @elonmusk (December 28, 2019). "We started Zip2 with ~$2k from me plus my overclocked home-built PC, ~$5k from my bro & ~$8k from Greg Kouri (such a good guy — he is greatly missed). My Dad provided 10% of a ~$200k angel funding round much later, but by then risk was reduced & round would've happened anyway" ( Tweet) – via Twitter.
  11. ^ Brecher, Elinor (June 15, 2018). "Gregory Anthony Kouri, early PayPal investor, dies at 51". Miami Herald. Retrieved May 11, 2024.
  12. ^ Outing, Steve (August 31, 1998). "Zip2's Evolving City Site and Portal Strategy". Editor & Publisher. Archived from the original on October 18, 2016. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  13. ^ Flynn, Laurie (September 14, 1998). "Online City Guides Compete in Crowded Field". The New York Times on the web. Archived from the original on September 15, 2015. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Rossello, Rosanne (September 1996). "Zip2 offers Yellow Pages niche to newspapers". No. 1. Joss Group. Seybold Report on Internet Publishing.
  15. ^ "Zip2 to offer online Auto Guide". No. 4. Joss Group. Seybold Report on Publishing Systems. October 1997.
  16. ^ Cooper, Charles (April 3, 1998). "CitySearch, Zip2 to merge in $300 million deal". ZDNet. Archived from the original on August 12, 2016. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  17. ^ Kidder, David; Hoffman, Reid (2013). The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest Growing Start-Ups from the founding Entrepreneurs. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. pp. 2224–228. ISBN  978-1452105048.{{ cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list ( link)
  18. ^ "2 Web Ventures End Merger Plan". The New York Times. May 18, 1998. ISSN  0362-4331. Archived from the original on August 15, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  19. ^ "Zip2 – Elon Musk's First Successful Startup". Techie + Gamers. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  20. ^ Junnarkar, Sandeep (February 16, 1999). "Compaq buys Zip2". CNET. Archived from the original on October 21, 2014.
  21. ^ Napoli, Lisa (February 17, 1999). "Compaq Buys Zip2 to Enhance Altavista". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 9, 2020. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  22. ^ "Compaq Buys Software Firm Zip2". Los Angeles Times. Reuters. February 17, 1999. ISSN  0458-3035. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2016.