Father Of AltaVista Resigns

Father Of AltaVista Resigns

From The Search Engine Report
May 4, 1999

AltaVista's Chief Technical Officer, Louis Monier, has left the company to pursue non-search engine related opportunities. His departure is not connected to the recent Compaq resignations nor the introduction of paid links at AltaVista.

"I think it was time to go," Monier said. "Four years on the same thing is a lot of time."

Monier is very much the father of the AltaVista search service. The idea of building a large search engine came up during a lunchtime conversation between Monier and two other Digital employees in spring 1995. Monier then led the team that built AltaVista, which debuted in December of that year and set a new standard for indexing the web. Having indexed over 20 million documents, AltaVista was ten times as large as any existing search engine on the web at that time.

Since AltaVista's debut, Monier has continued as the technical leader of the search engine. In particular, he's orchestrated the push toward making the service useful to non-English speakers and those living outside the United States, especially with the introduction of a search-by-language feature that has now spread to several other services. He's also been the push behind search features introduced at the service over the past year, such as Related Searches and the introduction of RealNames information.

As a figurehead, Monier's departure is as significant as if Yahoo-founders Jerry Yang or David Filo were to depart from their service. It's a gap AltaVista already feels.

"One thing that's for sure is that if Louis ever wants to come back, he can. We think the world of him," said AltaVista's marketing director Celia Francis.

Both Francis and Monier himself stressed that the introduction of paid links was not behind his departure. "It's pure coincidence," Monier said. In fact, Monier had actually wanted the introduction of some type of paid links system.

"I pushed for some sort of paid results, but there not like you see today," he said. "The implementation doesn't quite match what I had in mind." Explaining, he added, "A true auction, for the little people, instead of the big guys through an ad agency. They may evolve into this."

AltaVista says it does intend to open the listings up to general advertisers by next month.

As for the future, Monier has hooked up with venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and is excited about doing something other than search. He promised more details in the coming weeks.

"I have plans, but I'm not ready to reveal them at this time," he said.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers


After this article was originally written, I learned Monier is going to be part of a new company called Doublebill. The site is the first link above, and a release (with very few details) is the second link.