RushmoreDrive.com, the Charlotte-based Internet search engine for African Americans, will shut down on Friday, sources and published reports say.

The company launched in April 2008 promising a new online experience for black Internet users. Unlike search leader Google, Rushmore Drive promised to yield search results that were especially relevant to African Americans. It also features news and entertainment updates.

Above its logo is the phrase, “Finally a Search Engine for the Black community.”

Efforts to reach company officials were unsuccessful, but a source with inside knowledge of the company told Qcitymetro.com that Rushmore Drive was victimized by a bad economy.

“In our eyes we did succeed,” the source said. “We ended with more than 600,000 unique monthly visitors. But in a tough economy, it takes a bit more than being a bit above average. Had it been a better economy, we definitely would have seen a longer run.”

The source said nearly 7 million people had visited the Rushmore Drive site since it launched.

But not everyone saw the need of a black search engine, and some questioned the company’s business model.

Rushmore Drive is owned by IAC/Interactive, a $2.3 billion New York company that also owns brands such as Ask.com, evite.com, Match.com and The Daily Beast.

In May, IAC reported a first-quarter loss of $28.4 million, compared with a $52.8 million profit in the same quarter a year earlier.

Rumors had circulated for months that Rushmore Drive, named after the Ballantyne street where its offices are located, was in financial trouble. It laid off several workers earlier this year. Then came rumors of a possible sale.

According to the Internet site Black Web 2.0, Rushmore Drive CEO Johnny Taylor announced his resignation today, effective immediately.

Taylor could not be reached for comment or to confirm that report.

In Charlotte, Rushmore Drive has been a major sponsor of African American events, and earlier this year Taylor received an Urban League of Central Carolinas Leadership Award.

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