Mark Holst-Knudsen likes to joke that Thomas Publishing Co is the oldest Internet company known to man, but in a sense, he's not far off. Founded in 1898, it published the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers, a multivolume directory of distributor, manufacturer, and service company information that helped connect buyers and sellers of industrial products. Hoist-Knudsen's ThomasNet is part of Thomas Industrial Network, which is a subsidiary of Thomas Publishing, and has become the flagship product of the organization. At the most basic level, ThomasNet.com serves the same function that the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers did. In 2001, Holst-Knudsen came to a burgeoning ThomasNet, which had officially launched in 1995 as Thomas-Register.com. His initial role was director of project management in charge of the development of Navigator, a product catalog management infrastructure platform to help industrial companies. Holst-Knudsen says ThomasNet's competition usually breaks down according to the different segments of its business.
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