what-happened-to-altavista

What happened to AltaVista?

AltaVista was a search engine created in 1995 by a group of researchers attempting to make finding files on a public network easier. Despite its obvious power, AltaVista fell into disuse like many similar (but arguably inferior) services including Infoseek, AOL Search, Excite, and Ask Jeeves. The advent of Google as market leader helped make AltaVista much less relevant, thus making it fall in disuse among consumers.

Background

AltaVista was a search engine created in 1995 by a group of researchers attempting to make finding files on a public network easier.

It had two distinct advantages over other search engines of the time. For one, it utilized a fast, multi-threaded crawler that could cover many more web pages than were believed to exist on the internet in the 90s. AltaVista also employed an efficient back-end search running on advanced hardware. 

It’s important to note that AltaVista was not created to win over consumers or tap into a commercial market to make a profit.

The project was essentially a test case for a supercomputer with a 64-bit processor and 130 GB of RAM that could search large databases quickly.

Despite its obvious power, AltaVista fell into disuse like many similar (but arguably inferior) services including Infoseek, AOL Search, Excite, and Ask Jeeves.

What caused its demise?

Yahoo partnership and sale to Compaq

In 1996, AltaVista began providing search results for search queries performed on the Yahoo website.

The partnership with Yahoo was not inherently bad for AltaVista, but it did precipitate a series of events that would cause the search engine to fall out of favor.

Two years later, Compaq acquired Digital Equipment (DEC) – the owner of AltaVista – for $9.6 billion.

Compaq was less interested in the hardware powering AltaVista and more interested in trying to beat Yahoo at its own game.

To that end, Compaq turned the search engine into a complex web portal by removing the simple interface users had grown accustomed to. Over time, the homepage became increasingly cluttered.

To beat Yahoo, Compaq had made AltaVista more like its competitors and thus eroded its point of difference.

During this time, some users switched to a new kid on the search engine: Google.

CMGI and Overture acquisitions

Struggling to make AltaVista profitable, Compaq sold an 83% stake to the owner of the Lycos search engine CMGI in 1999.

However, a failed IPO meant staff were made redundant at CMGI as it too struggled to make money from AltaVista.

In an attempt to claw back market share from Google, the search engine belatedly reverted to a simple search form.

AltaVista was then sold to Overture in 2003 for $140 million, itself acquired by Yahoo four months later.

The acquisition by Yahoo marked the beginning of the end for AltaVista, with its once-mighty search technology absorbed into the Yahoo platform.

Ultimately, Altavista became irrelevant as soon as it became disconnected from the domain name it had grown from over a decade prior. Yahoo formally retired the search engine in 2013.

Key takeaways:

  • Altavista was a pioneering search engine developed by a group of Digital Equipment (DEC) researchers. It was originally created to showcase the power of a then-revolutionary DEC supercomputer.
  • After an ominous partnership with Yahoo in 1996, AltaVista underwent a series of acquisitions and format charges as several companies tried to make it profitable. In the process, the search engine lost market share to up-and-comer Google.
  • Yahoo acquired AltaVista in 2003 and absorbed the technology behind the search engine into its own platform. AltaVista was formally put to rest ten years later. 

Other Failure Stories

What Happened to WeWork

what-happened-to-wework
WeWork is a commercial real estate company providing shared workspaces for tech start-ups and other enterprise services. It was founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in 2010. WeWork’s business model was built on complex arrangements between the company and its landlords. There were also several conflicts of interest between Neumann and WeWork, which provided the impetus for the failed IPO and significant devaluation that would follow.

What Happened to Netscape

what-happened-to-netscape
Netscape – or Netscape Communications Corporation – was a computer services company best known for its web browser. The company was founded in 1994 by Marc Andreessen and James H. Clark as one of the internet’s first and most important start-ups. The Netscape Navigator web browser was released in 1995 and became the browser of choice for the users of the time. By November 1998, it had been acquired by AOL, which tried unsuccessfully to revive the popularity of the web browser. Ten years later, Netscape was shut down entirely.

What Happened to Musical.ly

what-happened-to-musically
Musically, or Musical.ly as it is officially known, was a Chinese social media platform headquartered in Shanghai. After passing 200 million users in May 2017, the platform was shut down by tech company ByteDance in November. After its acquisition, ByteDance suggested Musical.ly would continue to operate as a standalone platform. Company representatives noted that it would be able to leverage ByteDance’s AI technology and enormous reach in the Chinese market. Musically was ultimately absorbed into TikTok in June 2018, with the app no longer available in August of the same year. Existing users were offered technical support and several new features as a sweetener.

What Happened to Vine

what-happened-to-vine
Vine was an American video social networking platform with a focus on looping video clips of six seconds in length, founded by Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll in 2012 to help people capture casual moments in their lives and share them with their friends. Vine went on to become a massively popular platform. Yet by 2016, Twitter discontinued the mobile app, allowing users to view or download content on the Vine website. It then announced a reconfigured app allowing creators to share content to a connected Twitter account only. This marked the end of Vine.

What Happened to CNN Plus

what-happened-to-cnn-plus
CNN Plus was a video streaming service and offshoot of CNN’s cable TV news network that was launched on March 29, 2022. The service was ultimately shut down just one month after it was launched. Trouble began for the platform when parent company WarnerMedia merged with Discovery. The latter was unimpressed with paltry viewer data and, with $55 billion in debt to clear, was not interested in funding CNN+ moving forward. Other contributing factors to CNN Plus’s demise include a lack of compelling content and streaming service market saturation.

What Happened to Clubhouse

what-happened-to-clubhouse
Clubhouse is a social app that allows thousands of people to communicate with each other in audio chat rooms. At one point, the company was worth $4 billion and boasted users such as Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Clubhouse declined because it rode the wave of pandemic lockdowns and suffered when people resumed their normal routines. The decision to remove the invite-only feature also caused a rapid influx of new members and removed any exclusivity. Clubhouse management also failed to define a business model and was unaware of the components of a successful social media site.

What Happened to Facebook

what-happened-to-facebook

Main Free Guides:

Scroll to Top
FourWeekMBA