Print 33 comment(s) - last by BRB29.. on Jul 5 at 3:00 PM

A failed IPO, a mess of different owners and failure to innovate killed the search engine

AltaVista is one of those things you either have no idea about, or if you remember it, you thought it was shut down years ago. Surprise! 

AltaVista, an early search engine that started in 1995, is still around today. However, these are its end days, as the search market continues to be dominated by the likes of Google (or just Google, actually). 

AltaVista is expected to be laid to rest July 8. 

AltaVista circa 1999
AltaVista circa 1999

The archaic search engine started off strong and successful during the Internet boom of the 1990s, but hit some trouble after a failed initial public offering (IPO) back in 2000. The company was supposed to raise $300 million in December 1999 for the expected April 2000 IPO, but cancelled it due to a drop in the Nasdaq Stock Market. 

From there, AltaVista went through several acquisitions. It was founded by Digital Equipment Corporation in 1995, which was acquired by Compaq in 1998 and merged with Hewlett-Packard in 2002. Overture Services then bought AltaVista alone in 2003, and Overture was purchaased by Yahoo in 2003. 

Aside from failed IPOs and a mess of different owners, AltaVista just couldn't innovate enough to keep up with Google or Yahoo. 

Source: CNET

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A Shame
By drlumen on 7/2/2013 12:36:38 PM , Rating: 4
It's a shame really. I used it much in the early days but with each buyout and merger the results screen started getting so cluttered that it was a bit confusing to find the search results against all their ads. Kinda like going to AOL (shudders) or trying to use the ad and subscription supported, kodachrome nightmare that was Prodigy (before the internet).

It was good back in the day. I don't think their current issue was so much due to technology but of a lousy layout.

RE: A Shame
By BRB29 on 7/2/2013 12:55:51 PM , Rating: 5
was founded by Digital Equipment Corporation in 1995, which was acquired by Compaq in 1998 and merged with Hewlett-Packard in 2002 .

There's your problem right there.

RE: A Shame
By Mitch101 on 7/2/2013 12:57:11 PM , Rating: 2
I spotted that too. HP seems to have far surpassed IBM as a rising software killer after purchase.

RE: A Shame
By BRB29 on 7/2/2013 1:32:44 PM , Rating: 2
At least IBM still manage to make profits and actually sell the divisions that they are not effective in. Like their laptop divisions to Lenovo and is now thriving.

HP is like a graveyard.

RE: A Shame
By Mitch101 on 7/2/2013 1:52:06 PM , Rating: 2
True dat.

Love Lenovo especially their outlet.
Check the Doorbusters hourly for a great deal and warranty.

Customer support is awesome best experience outside of NewEgg.

RE: A Shame
By Argon18 on 7/2/2013 3:08:03 PM , Rating: 2
HP is a graveyard indeed. Every technology they buy withers and dies. Either deliberately (e.g. Alpha CPU) or from clueless HP executive management (e.g. Palm).

I pity the fool whose company gets bought by HP, for its technology will be shelved and killed, and its employees all laid off.

Welcome to the New HP.

RE: A Shame
By Argon18 on 7/2/2013 3:17:01 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention DEC's OpenVMS operating system, that had active-active clustering in the 1980's The 80's! Even today, OpenVMS has features that no other OS has. For example, the ability for multiple operating system instances (multiple physical servers even) to all boot from the same physical OS disk.

What was state-of-the-art Microsoft in the 1980's? MS-DOS. Lol.

RE: A Shame
By ilt24 on 7/2/2013 1:30:42 PM , Rating: 2
A few years before HP bought Compaq, Altavista was sold to a company called CGMI and it was CGMI that tried the failed IPO.

RE: A Shame
By Reclaimer77 on 7/3/2013 2:22:19 AM , Rating: 2
There's your problem right there.

Very funny. If you want to know what sealed their fate, it's not HP, look no further than

RE: A Shame
By BRB29 on 7/3/2013 8:19:18 AM , Rating: 2
Very funny. If you want to know what sealed their fate, it's not HP, look no further than

Having competition does not seal anyone's fate.

Look at every company HP have absorbed and please tell me one that was actually worth the purchase price. Palm, Compaq, Altavista, Autonomy...

RE: A Shame
By Reclaimer77 on 7/3/2013 4:25:54 PM , Rating: 2
Having competition does not seal anyone's fate.

Are you on drugs?

The closest thing Google has to competition is Bing. Which Microsoft has poured, literally, billions on billions into and has yet to make a single dollar of profit OR gain marketshare over Google.

So your options are to acknowledge that Google, single handedly, took over the Internet search market. Or you can attempt to blame dozens of companies like HP for the search engines failing.

RE: A Shame
By BRB29 on 7/5/2013 3:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
you just proved my point.

When Google came out, there were plenty of competitors around and Google was the underdog.

While everyone else sit around and collect, google continuously improves itself and became dominant. If anything, competition is what helped google get to where they are. They never slowed down their pace. Google is still dominant because they offer so much more than just email and search. OTOH, Bing spend billions improving itself and offer barely anything else. You can conclude that Google is thriving because it is constantly competing with other companies and even with itself.

So yes, I blame HP for sitting on Altavista and doing absolutely nothing with it. Sounds like what they did to Palm right? their little revival probably won't save it this time either.

RE: A Shame
By AntiM on 7/2/2013 12:58:59 PM , Rating: 2
....acquired by Compaq in 1998 and merged with Hewlett-Packard in 2002.

That explains why it turned into a mess.

RE: A Shame
By marvdmartian on 7/3/2013 8:12:46 AM , Rating: 3
I used them more for their translation page than for their search engine. Google's translation page is okay, but Alta Vista's "Babel Fish" was my first love! LOL

For search engines, I wish we had HotBot back. Man, that one took a MAJOR dive, once they were bought out by Lycos!

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