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Altavista to Go For the IPO 65

x00 writes "The BBC News site is currently reporting that Altavista is going to float and that it could be worth 5 Billion Dollars. It also states that it could possibly merge with Lycos. "
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Altavista to Go For the IPO

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  • Altavista's going to float and it's worth 5 billion dollars, you say? Good thing I didn't try to read this in Italian via babelfish [altavista....argetbabel], or else I'd probably be reading something about my mother and a fish.
  • I so rarely use altavista anymore, I like google much better.

    Now if they had done an IPO a year ago, they might have done better.

  • I wonder when the Internet IPO boom is going to quiet down.

    And its funny how a simple search engine can end up making so much money... but i guess even though there are so many search engines out there already, altavista has achieved "brand-name loyalty" among its users.
  • This is just the start...

    Next year is going to be another significant year for the Internet -

    Consolidation and major buyouts of Internet companies is on the way (and will break a few records in the process)

  • ...altavista will never make much money.

    Or, to be more specific, it will never make much money. Not enough to justify the types of prices that it will go for. In an age where clickthrough ratios are steadily declining, why would anyone buy stock in a pure search engine? It doesn't have the traffic or services of Yahoo!, nor does it have the number of steady users.
    Matt Singerman
  • Too bad those who could have gained the most from AV going public have left the company a long time ago. I work for a company that was founded by ex-AV employees. They waited, along with every other employee, for AV to public so they could make their money. They quit waiting a couple of years ago and started a consulting firm. Apprently, many other people quit, too: VP's, managers, techies, all types. It was just too long. AV has already lost the best it had.
  • [] Wonder if they are a parent company? ;-) ____ Check out the new case I built at the url above in the computers section. -S
    Scott Ruttencutter
  • Basically they are trying to make money from putting out crappy portal services and such. That's what all major search engines do. It tries to make the site to be the one and only place you go on the internet with the exception of the pages you visit and they are trying to eliminate the need for that as well.
  • by mong ( 64682 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @07:14AM (#1489962) Homepage
    Let me get this straight? This is a company which has even less in the way of physical assets, than (for example) Redhat, who (you will remember) are now worth an absolutely ridiculous amount of money.

    Can anyone tell me exactly what Altavista owns, how it makes money (if it does?) and what its turnover, net assests etc are?

    5 billion is a lot, no matter how you say it. The only thing I can imagine is that people will invest in case AV starts to make money. But with the 5 billion investment, AV could easily itself invest in other companies with tangible assets - maybe this is the point though, and I'm missing it? If anyone out there has some spare cash to invest mail me [mailto], I know the ideal thing for you (no really!).

    But yeah, this is one almighty head-f*** so early in the morning!


    * Paul Madley ...Student, Artist, Techie - Geek *
  • Now that reliable evidence indicates that the Feminists have acquired nuclear weapons from sources in the former Soviet Block, it's time to face facts and get right with God. Hold on to your hats, guys, it's gonna get rough.

    Billy, mommy said that you can come in and stop playing CIA spy ok? Dinner's ready.
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @07:15AM (#1489965) Homepage Journal
    1. Altavista will probably be valued below it's original estimate. Too much competition, too little value.
    2. It would be a very tempting target for Microsoft, who still want the portal market. It would also let them kill off some of the competition.
    3. No sane investor is going to hang around to see if Altavista is Y2K-compliant. Any IPO this close, EITHER side, is likely to be doomed by market panic.
    4. Even if the investors don't panic, other companies they've invested in -may-. A market crash is no time to be investing.
    5. Non-productive IPOs have done extremely badly, overall. BeOS dropped like a stone, and despite initially doing OK, didn't come out smelling of roses, either.
  • by / ( 33804 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @07:19AM (#1489967)
    What does altavista sell/provide that could possibly be worth $5 billion?

    A search engine that, while popular, can't match the quality of some of its upstart competition, ie google [].

    A portal that, while somewhat popular, is not much better than any other portal, and portals are a dime-a-dozen these days.

    Some web-auction services that, quite frankly, aren't going to unseat ebay [] any time soon.

    Web-based email service, as if no one else is doing that these days.

    An online yellow-pages-like business directory -- a market that lots of companies are entering and which has had a lot of competition (like switchboard []) for a while.

    Plus some other assorted things like stockquotes, weather, etc. that are well covered by other sites.

    All altavista has going for it right now is an established brand name and an established web presence. While those two things are good to have, their value is diminished as most of the rest of the business world gets onto the web. There's room for altavista to make some sort of profit, perhaps, but it likely wouldn't be soon, and it certainly wouldn't justify a multi-billion-dollar market cap. Most internet IPOs just don't.

  • by georgeha ( 43752 ) on Wednesday December 01, 1999 @07:20AM (#1489968) Homepage
    If AltaVista is worth $5 billion, I'll pour a hot bowl of grits down my pants !!! Wait a minute...I'll do that anyway !!!

    Altavista will help you buy books from Amazon about pouring hot grits down your pants.

  • Hey, I'm totally serious about this: Are you one person or a couple of people? I think the original grit-boy should create an account... Of course with the karma-thing now, you'd never be able to post... Oh well.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Why leave? I don't judge a job based on the remote possibility of making a quick stock option cash in.
  • Is there a service that can do Chinese or Japanese pictographs or text? I haven't found one yet.

  • I think you may be right, this may very well spell the end for the bound-to-succeed portal IPO period. Altavista has a name and has been around for while, but beyond that it has absolutely nothing to offer. Its no longer the best search engine (by far), nor the smartest. The portal services are as glued on, unncessary, and artificial as anywhere else.

    In a way I hate to see Altavista targeted like this. It was a very good services around its inception, and though I don't use it anymore, I have some fond memories of first learning its advanced search syntax. Altavista has mostly suffered from being the bastard child in two mismanaged companies that didn't care about it. On the other hand: it is about time.

    It's worth noting however that everyone who has predicted the end of the stupid IPOs for anything with a name in Cyberspace has turned out to be wrong, and that this has costed some conservative investors a lot of money. I have been opposed to the portal concept since its inception: I believe that as people get more at home on the Net, they will use portals less, not more (the only search services I use are Google and Alltheweb, both demo services by companies selling search technology), but so far, I have been proved wrong again and again.

    I hasn't been a great few years for the devils advocates of the stock markets...

    We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.
  • I use a combination of northernlight [], google [], and alltheweb []. They work great for finding all that I need.
  • Do you think that was a typo, or are we in for some very weird times in the recording industry?

    I actually am interested about why I haven't seen any really cool millenium oriented music out there in the popular stream. Now that would be cool. Just have some rapper rap to passages in Revelation.
  • It's funny how everyone downplays what they think Altavista will do, considering the success of Redhat. The points against Redhat go along the lines of:

    They're only gaining popularity because of the trial against MSFT.

    They're worth as much as they're worth because one day they may make a bundle of money.

    They have no proprietary advantage over their competitors, in fact they have a huge potential for competition, since their product is free...

    They've fared very well, thus far.

    As far as Altavista goes, if they were a new search engine, then yeah, it'd be a waste of dollars. But they're not a new company. They're a well established search engine. They've got a HUGE audience. Yes, click-throughs are dropping, but they've expanded their services to include shopping, etc... so there's a clear money making scheme at work.

    If Amazon and Redhat can see their market caps hit 15 billion based on the expectationt hat one day (not today) their earnings will make their share prices worthwhile, then surely Altavista can be afforded the same luxury.

    And lets not forget, Altavista's being run by CMGI - a 17 billion dollar company. This will be a killer IPO, IMHO.
  • Like a stone? BeOS at yahoo finace []
    And what exactly does non-productive mean? They are selling a product, after all. (Ok, so maybe not selling like gangbusters).

    I'm no investor, so this is probably a naive comment, but does an IPO have to be wildly successful to be considered successful at all? I thought the whole point was to get some cash on hand to use to grow the business. If people think the business will really take off and they want a piece of it, the price should shoot up. But if people are cautious, shouldn't you see a mediocre response? The company still gets some cash so it can get on with convincing people why it's a good investment. Does a mediocre IPO mean you should just turn off the lights, last one out lock the door?

  • Yeah, but it sure is one hell of a search engine!

  • I so rarely use altavista anymore, I like google much better.

    I just gave google a shot, and it's just become my new favorite. I did a few searches, and all turned up good results on the first screenful.

    I used to have such good luck with altavista that I would use it all the time, and only use others when altavista completely failed me. Usually the others would fail me as well in that case. But I've noticed a steady decline in how easy it is to search the web. (It's not Altavista's fault, and I don't know why Google turned up such good results for me - maybe just random chance.) It's the way things have always been, but it used to be manageable. Any simple search just turns up far too many hits - I may have to go through dozens of screenfulls of hits, and load dozens of pages to look for what I want. Most of the hits were by accident, or are not what I want at all (e.g. I want information on something, and all I can find is people trying to sell me one). I can guess at words or phrases that will be included in the page I want, but they're just wild guesses and I'm relying on luck. It can be impossible to find certain pieces of simple information that I'm sure are out there.

    Some things are nearly impossible to search for, a single letter, an acronym with multiple meanings, a product that is also a foreign word. Sometimes it's nice how altavista replaces - and / with space, sometimes you really do need to explicitly match that - or /, and then you're out of luck.

    As the net grows, there will be more information on it, and it will be harder to find. I'm not sure that there's any way to solve the problem. More advanced search engines would definately help - are there even any that support regex searches?

  • Ahh...looks like they're finally gonna make back all that money they poured into buying the domain. That's a lot more than what can be said for whoever baught today. ;)

  • Last time I checked, Lycos [] and HotBot [] were tightly partnered. Adding Altavista to the mix could be interesting, since I see Altavista and HotBot's search functionality essentially the same, and in fact I would guess they view each other as competitors...
  • AltaVista used to be good, back when you could do a single search over the entire usenet space.

    Now a usenet search simply returns the list of usenet groups which match your search.

    I used to feel that altavista was one of the single most useful information sources on the planet. It went from being number one in my book to the bottom of the heap.

    Anyone know of a good place ( excluded, I don't like their searches) to do usenet-wide searches?

    Sex is absolutely necessary for the propogation of the species. Where do you propose to draw the line? Sex that *you* deem is okay?

    Sex violates. Sex hurts. Sex demeans. Sex insults.

    People enjoy sex. Period. Do you really think it would be popular if _everyone_ was hurt, violated, and insulted by it?

    I consider sex to be the most disgusting thing in the world.

    Sex is a natural genetic instinct inherent to every species. Some animals give their lives simply to mate and pass on their genes. From an evolutionary standpoint, every creature's action is either to contribute to survival, or to increase the success of mating.
    Humans are the only exception to this. In their continued pursuit of 'higher meaning' some completely reject anything that looks silly (eg sex) and is unusally gratifying. A few scant individuals, such as you Mr. Coward, go so far as to say they don't enjoy sex at all. This is denial and repression of natural desires, and probably frustrates you more than you care to admit. If you *genuinely* don't enjoy sex and are not just denying it for the sake of appearing 'holy', then you have a medical condition and should see your doctor.

    Oh shoot, there i go again: being just as off-topic as the AC before me.
  • Concidering Digital(err I mean compaq) owns AltaVista, and they're already publicly traded, could it actually drop the price of the compaq stock when altavista is seperated? And who is the CEO/etc? I didn't think AltaVista was even a company, I thought it was just a division of compaq.

  • Actually, CMGI owns us. Compaq has some small percentage, around 15%, you can look it up -- it's a matter of public record. It's probably even mentioned in the article to which this story points.
  • Does anyone out there use Dogpile? I prefer it, because it shoots back so many different sources
    (no, I don't work there).
  • The advantage of Altavista is that it gives you exactly what you type. The search engines such as Excite and Lycos try to actually figure out what you want, and Google goes one step farther and finds the "net consensus" for what you typed, and the pages are often totally unrelated to what you typed. I am experienced, and I know what I'm looking for, so I prefer Altavista, because it doesn't try to change my search on me like Google does.

    If you are searching for a technical term, Altavista is by leaps and bounds better than the other search engines. You can specify exactly what you want, and you will get back exactly what you typed. It has extremely powerful features such as quotes searching which Google and the others STILL do not have.

    Google thinks it knows more than you and does things behnd your back. If you are new to the web or are looking for pages which about something you do not know much about, it is useful, but when you are more experienced, Altavista is the source.

    I just hope Altavista isn't turned into a "smart" search engine like all of the others. It really is the last pure search engine left today.
  • They won't market the product (other than Slashdot, exactly WHERE have you seen BeOS advertised?).

    They won't support the product (you might have seen the BeOS users from the M68K flavour make rather pointed comments on the subject).

    They won't expand the product (ever seen a BeOS driver? They're rarer than NT's!)

    They aim for the multimedia market, but there's next to zero multimedia software.

    I'm sorry, but I wouldn't call that selling, unless "selling" is somehow extended to include deliberate self-destruction. I'd say they were adopting kamakazi tactics, but as they're not likely to take any of their competitors out in the process, that would be at best wildly inaccurate.

  • Compaq bought DEC for $9.6 billion. Included in this packages was Altavista which has since blossomed into a $5 billion enterprise. If Altavista is really worth that much, then DEC without Altavista was worth only $4.6 billion. The most successful computing enterprise in history was worth less than 1/3 of some startup which presses Linux CD's. Absolutely frightening...
  • 1) Google loads fast. Pages that take more than 5 seconds to load had better have some pretty damn good content.
    2) Google searches fast. It doesn't take forever to return results.
    3) Google really is more accurate. Go to google, type "trek", hit "I feel lucky punk" and Blammo, you're there. With AltaVista, all you get is some other page. You have to hunt through a huge list to find what you want.

    Boolean queries are nice, but they fall down sometimes. Google does a better job more often than Alta Vista.
  • If you go to you can buy the BeOS. Therefor I concluded that they are selling a product. As for their marketing practices or business plan, I'm in no position to comment.

    As far as my experience with the company goes, they do support the product. I've received several updates, which included new drivers for hardware that was previously unsupported.
    While there may not be shelves full of software for the BeOS, there's some out there and it appears that there is more on the way.

    Now, although their IPO was not a smashing success, I believe it did generate the cash they wanted. Now they just need to utilize that cash to impress other investors and drive their value up.

    My main point was that I didn't think an IPO needed to rocket to amazing prices immediately to be considered worthwhile.

  • Google, as I understand its algorithms, does not do anything behind anybody's back. Its purpose and nature are simply different than Altavista's.

    I agree with you about the flawed nature of Excite and Lycos: they are ANNOYING. Google, however, is completely different.

    I spent the last two years using the Altavista boolean search almost exclusively. I now favor google for several reasons. The main advantage of google is that it has a useful relevancy scheme based on solid algorithms. The basic consideration is that the internet's topology is useful for picking out the richest sites.

    The bottom line for me is that even for technical terms, I find that google's index is much more comprehensive, and that it does a better job at avoiding pages that are designed to attract search engines.

    That said, Altavista is always my second location in case I'm unsatisfied with google's results. If Altavista hadn't decided to intentionally neglect some parts of the internet in its index, it would probably be better than google. But google is not a "beginners'" search engine.
  • Somebody had to say it (and somebody probably has, but why should that stop me?)
    Don't forget babelfish []. That's got to be worth something. ;-)

    more or less what the previous poster said:

    What Alta Vista the sell/provide that it could be supposed in the value $5 billion?

    Search Engine, which, if popular, the quality of the section of its competition of upstart cannot fit up, google of the IE.

    A support, that, if in such a way popular is, not of this no different one a support better good and portal is tenth dollar in dúzia nowadays.

    Some jobs of Web Web Web Web bidding that, fully sincerely, do not shift ebay in any height, those soon.

    it gives maintenance to jobs Web Web based the email, as if any another fact of this nowadays.

  • Though I generally despise the Internet's do-jack-and-get-rich IPO situation, Altavista is a quality service and my exclusive search engine until google came along. For actually doing something of merit, Altavista should be rewarded. Of course, the computer industry has a long history of punishing quality and rewarding mediocrity.

    Good luck Altavista. I hope that Andover, on the other hand, tanks.

    HAHA! LAST POST! Anything following is redundant.
  • I happen to LOVE Altavista, it has the vastest search in the land... If you know how to use it. There are serveral tricks that get you just what you want. I haven't used Google much, but I still think A-vista's better...and I like the new layout, believe it or not, even though I don't use the site as a portal. I'm sure there are others who agree with me.

    "There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."

  • 1. At 23 million hits daily (reference: Doubleclick - AV's ad agent) they are not doing so badly... Many would agree that in today's market an established brand name and a history as the first in the market it the more important than product, revenue or anything else. Google might get the attentitive young slashdot geeks but this is not the general market.
    2. I doubt CMGI will sellout to MSFT very easily.
    3/4. If the stock market falls on Y2K, BUY!!! Seriously, I think the kind of people who are honestly afraid of Y2K already took out all their assets in gold and moved to Utah.
    5. Yeah.. but BeOS is not an internet company. Hey, so maybe Altavista doesn't see the stick price triple on the first day.. it sure isn't as easy as it used to be - but then again, remeber that their underwriter gaurentees sale of all their stock... so even if their stock sits exactly at opening price, they will make some $80 million in hard cash, no strings attached... (almost)

  • For Japanese text, I use a third party program called Translingo It trasnlates right off NS or IE. Unfortunately it's crippled after 30 days, unless you decided to purchase the full version.

  • Well, now that the precedent has been set of a company insider posting on this thread, I'll say my piece:

    Whenever you list the assets of the AltaVista company, don't forget our very strong AltaVista Search product, which we have in addition to our better-known AltaVista Search service.

    This is a commercial product which is nicely profitable for the company (although there is a free version available for those who are interested). Take a look at [] for details.

    -- Div.
    But my grandest creation, as history will tell,

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong