Search player LookSmart has taken a significant step forward on what it expects to be its comeback trail, launching 161 new vertical search sites.

The move came as the company announced a third quarter net loss of $4.3 million, which was better than the $5.5 to $6.5 million loss it expected when it last reported earnings. Revenues for the quarter were $9.2 million, higher than the $7 million to $8 million it had predicted but lower than the $10.2 million in brought in last quarter.

LookSmart has been fighting for its life since losing MSN as a distribution partner back in 2003. Since that time, when its main products were paid inclusion listings, the company has made cutbacks, shaken up its management and refocused around three initiatives -- a paid search and contextual ad network, vertical search sites, and technology licensing.

"We've gone from a company that everyone had all but written off, to a company where no one is saying our success is assured -- including ourselves mind you -- but they're saying that maybe we can build an audience," CEO Dave Hills told ClickZ News.

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