Excite.com Search Engine Spared from Extinction

A U.S. Bankruptcy court has approved InfoSpace's $10 million bid for certain Excite@Home assets, including domain names, trademarks and user traffic associated with the Excite.com Web site.

InfoSpace will power the search and directory components of the Excite web site, and will sell and/or license the portal's other components to iWon, a search engine best known for offering cash prizes to its users.

"Search and directory are at the core of InfoSpace's wireline business and Excite is a large opportunity to expose millions of users to our high-quality products," said York Baur, InfoSpace executive vice president, wireline and broadband, in a press release announcing the deal. "Excite users should be assured that Excite.com will remain and will offer the same high quality experience and services that it always has."

Well, sort of.

For starters, search will no longer be powered by Excite's crawler. InfoSpace's Dogpile metasearch will replace Excite's crawler. Search results on both Excite and Dogpile will be the same.

Directory results will likely be subtly different. Both Excite's and Dogpile's web directory listings are provided by LookSmart. But Dogpile also has a number of other "directories" powered by InfoSpace, including yellow pages, white pages and classifieds that will likely be incorporated into results.

"For the Excite user, they will have a different search experience, but one we believe is very compelling," said Steve Stratz, PR Manager for InfoSpace.

Other changes to the Excite.com web site will be more subtle. Portal components, such as news, stock quotes, television listings, horoscopes and so on, will be provided by iWon.

"It should be absolutely transparent to the user," said Stratz. "We're trying to make sure that what we do is not a shock to users."

For casual Excite users, the changes probably won't be readily apparent. However, if you're a user of the personalized "My Excite" feature, some of your custom features may appear to be significantly different, since iWon's service providers for many of these features differ from Excite's former content partners.

As part of the deal, InfoSpace also acquired the rights to the WebCrawler domain, but it's not clear whether the venerable search engine will remain active after the transition.

Stratz noted that InfoSpace's recent reorganization has placed a renewed focus on search, directory and broadband technologies. In addition to dedicating an engineering team to Dogpile, the company is also seeking to expand its relationships with other search engines to augment its metasearch results.

"We're talking with engines that we've let go over the past year, to restrike those relationships," said Stratz.

This is good news for searchers concerned that Dogpile had "sold out" in recent months. A survey by Search Engine Watch last summer found that Dogpile was serving more results from paid placement search engines than results based on pure relevance rankings.

The transition process will begin as early as Friday, and will be complete as soon as "the lawyers have dotted all of the i's," according to Stratz.


ExciteAtHome Selling Its Portal
InternetNews.com, Nov. 12, 2001

More details about the planned sale of Excite to InfoSpace. The search technology owned by Excite@Home is NOT part of the proposed deal.

Excite@Home Goes Bankrupt; AltaVista Cuts Staff
The Search Engine Report, Oct. 2, 2001

Two of the web's oldest search engines had more bad financial news, with Excite@Home filing for bankruptcy last Friday and AltaVista also announcing a new round of layoffs last month.

Meta Search Or Meta Ads?
The Search Engine Report, May 23, 2001

A review of meta search services by Search Engine Watch shows that some are providing results where more than half of their listings are paid links. A guide to what's paid, what's not and how to get the most from your meta search service.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

The Portal Comes of Age...
line56 Nov 29 2001 11:04AM GMT
Altavista Responds To Explosive Growth Of Uk Internet...
Firefly Nov 29 2001 10:02AM GMT
AT&T Says Able to Keep ExciteAtHome Clients Online...
digitalMASS Nov 29 2001 8:53AM GMT
Study shows Web use cutting into TV time...
CNN Nov 29 2001 5:28AM GMT
New internet search could turn up viruses...
New Scientist Nov 28 2001 5:06PM GMT
The Google attack engine...
The Register Nov 28 2001 12:27PM GMT
ExciteAtHome Could Cease Service on Nov. 30...
ISPWorld.com Nov 28 2001 8:11AM GMT
Wireless Portals Go Under...
allNetDevices Nov 28 2001 7:02AM GMT
Internet porn is still protected speech, justices should rule...
SiliconValley.com Nov 28 2001 5:29AM GMT
Categorization Algorithms: The Efficiency of Technology...
Content-Wire Nov 28 2001 5:13AM GMT
Engage Adds AltaVista Search to Content Management Product...
Internet News Nov 27 2001 11:49PM GMT
Google may let surfers rank search results...
CNET Nov 27 2001 8:55PM GMT
State Loses Case Over Generic Domain...
Content-Wire Nov 27 2001 12:02PM GMT
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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was About.com's Web Search Guide.