AltaVista Lays Off Staff, Promises Profits, New Direction In Search

AltaVista has tightened its belt in the quest to become profitable by letting 25 percent of its staff go today. The company expects the restructuring and other changes will help it become profitable by the end of next January. Simultaneously, the company announced that it would continue to focus more on search, aiming for a "third generation" service that would intelligently determine what information best satisfies a user, such as automatically providing shopping results rather than web page matches or serving up different results based on a user's past queries.

Third generation? AltaVista defines the first generation of web search as service that relied upon analyzing the location and frequency of words on the page to determine ranking. The second generation is said to be the addition of off-the-page ranking criteria such as link analysis and clickthrough measurements. AltaVista hasn't yet rolled out portions of its third generation service, but expect more details, when they do.

AltaVista is also forming a new "Information-Marketing Services" group that looks to earn new revenues for the company by working with web marketers and content owners. This could include options such as paid listings or a pay for submission service similar to what Inktomi announced last month. However, it could also encompass services such as allowing marketers to query on what users are searching for or to discover for which queries their pages are being selected. AltaVista is not yet providing specifics, other than to say that the new services won't impact its editorial product.

"The key decision we have made is that we won't compromise the objectivity of our search results," said Rod Schrock, AltaVista's president and CEO.


Inktomi To Offer Paid Submit Option
The Search Engine Update, Aug. 2, 2000

More details about Inktomi's pay for inclusion plans.

'More Than 15 Percent' to Lose Jobs at AltaVista on Friday
Business 2.0, Sept. 13, 2000

Layoffs were estimated to be more than 15 percent, based on this early report. AltaVista has since confirmed them at 25 percent.

AltaVista set to cut staff, rev search engine, Sept 14, 2000

Another early article on the AltaVista actions.