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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

Google:
Online Search & the Battle for Clicks

May 1, 2005

Prepared by:

Priya Iyer
Brian Courtney
Sloan Fellows ’05

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1 INTRODUCTION..............................................................................................................................................1

2 SEARCH ENGINE INDUSTRY EVOLUTION .............................................................................................1

2.1 INDEXING – FINDING CONTENT ...................................................................................................................2

2.2 QUALITY OF RESULTS .................................................................................................................................2

2.3 MARKET TRENDS ........................................................................................................................................4

3 STRUCTURE OF THE INDUSTRY ...............................................................................................................5

3.1 PORTER’S FIVE FORCES ANALYSIS ..............................................................................................................5

3.2 SYSTEM MODEL ..........................................................................................................................................6

4 VALUE CAPTURE IN THE ONLINE SEARCH INDUSTRY.....................................................................9

4.1 VALUE CREATION VS. VALUE CAPTURE .....................................................................................................9

4.2 CRITICAL FACTORS OF VALUE CAPTURE ..................................................................................................11

4.3 VALUE CAPTURE ACROSS FIRMS - UNIQUENESS VS. COMPLEMENTARY ASSETS .......................................11

5 GOOGLE’S COMPETITIVE POSITION ....................................................................................................13

5.1 VALUE CHAIN ...........................................................................................................................................13

5.2 CREATING VALUE .....................................................................................................................................14

5.3 CAPTURING VALUE ...................................................................................................................................14

5.4 DELIVERING VALUE ..................................................................................................................................15

5.5 COMPETITIVE RESPONSE ...........................................................................................................................15

5.6 CREATION & CONTROL OF PROPRIETARY INDUSTRY STANDARDS ............................................................16

6 GOOGLE’S FUTURE STRATEGY ..............................................................................................................18

6.1 GROW CURRENT CONSUMER MARKETS ....................................................................................................18

6.2 PROVIDE UBIQUITY ACROSS DEVICES .......................................................................................................19

6.3 EXPAND GLOBALLY ..................................................................................................................................19

6.4 PENETRATE ENTERPRISE MARKETS ..........................................................................................................19

6.5 BUILD NETWORKS & PARTNERSHIPS ........................................................................................................20

6.6 CONCLUSION .............................................................................................................................................20

7 APPENDIX .......................................................................................................................................................21

7.1 HISTORY OF SEARCH ENGINES AND DIRECTORIES ....................................................................................21

7.2 VALUE CAPTURE STRATEGY OF FOLLOWERS ............................................................................................23

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

1 Introduction
Since the inception of the internet the user community has longed for complete and efficient
access to the vast array of content on the web. This gave rise to an industry for search engines with
players including Lycos, Yahoo!, Infoseek, AltaVista, Inktomi, Ask Jeeves, Google, and Northern Light.
Competition revolved around relevance of search results and total indexed content. To find and index
more sites, bots and spiders were created to tirelessly search the web. Search engines quickly learned that
the vast majority of searches were for retail products. Google leveraged this to become the dominant
channel for online advertisements. With billions of dollars at stake, search rank and ad placement became
critical and hence highly profitable. Google has evolved from being a best-of-breed search engine to a
destination site for a vast array of activities including eCommerce, email, blogging, maps, and much
more. When Google went public in 2004 they were generating over a billion dollars a year in adverting
revenue.
In the battle for platforms, Microsoft is the unequivocal winner having crushed giants like IBM,
Apple, Lotus, Netscape, etc. In the post-PC era, control of the platform matters only to the extent that it is
one of the means of controlling the on-ramps to the Internet. The emerging battle is about capturing eye­
balls and mouse-clicks; where business models are based on on-line advertising revenue, sale of goods,
subscriptions to content, and bundled broadband access1.
This paper looks at how the search engine market evolved and how Google is on its way to
become the dominant player. We will take a look at how value is created and captured within this market
and what the system dynamics are for growth. In looking at the value chain, we will explore how
competitive dynamics will evolve in the “battle for clicks”. Will Google win because its search-engine
technology makes it the Internet portal of choice? Will Yahoo! manage to gain an advantage by being the
most aggressive in acquiring content, e-commerce, and advertising properties on the internet? Or, perhaps
it is impossible to beat Microsoft with its monopoly in the operating system platform. With this we will
explore the future for the search market and discuss key factors for success.

2 Search Engine Industry Evolution


The Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW) were radical innovations that sparked new
channels and new forms of businesses. Though the Internet has been around since the 1960’s, Tim
Berners Lee created the WWW in 1990. The WWW consist of two main components, a web server for
publishing content, and web browsers for accessing content. Both internet browsers and web servers have

1
Battle for Clicks, Fuld & Company, 2005

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

been freely available since 1991. The evolution of the WWW was truly astonishing. From 26 known web
sites in late 1992 to today where there are millions of web sites and billions of web pages. During this
period of rapid growth many new products have been invented to help make the web easier to navigate
and use; one of the most meaningful of these is the search engine.

2.1 Indexing – Finding Content


In the early days of the Internet, users shared files using FTP servers. To help facilitate the ability
to find these files Archie was written by Alan Emtage of McGill University in Montreal in 1990. Archie
provided script based data gathering with query capabilities, creating the first true web search. Based on
the success of Archie, alternative utilities were created, the most popular of which was Gopher. To search
Gopher, Veronica and Jughead were written in 1993. These represent the first S-curve in search evolution.
The problem with these tools was
that the user had to manually maintain the
directory of sites that could be searched. Indexability

They were limited in their reach and


quickly became outdated. Around this
time, Matthew Gray of MIT wrote the
World Wide Web Wanderer, the web’s
Spiders
first robot. Bots were a disruption to the Hierarchy

existing state of search technology Bot Based Search


WWW Worm
allowing computers to automatically Archie

index and re-index sites. While they 1990 2000 2010


Figure 1: Disruptive innovation in index-ability for search
significantly increased the number of sites
that could be accessed through automation of the indexing, result relevancy became the dominant issue.
However, over a period of time more generalized ‘bots’ emerged which searched different collections of
data. Spiders were another significant incremental innovation to bots - they not only indexed the content,
they followed page links and references to find new sites. In 1993, three search engines emerged that
leveraged spiders: JumpStation, the World Wide Web Worm, and Repository-Based Software
Engineering (RBSE) spider. Bots and Spiders represent the second S-curve in the evolution of search
engines.

2.2 Quality of Results


JumpStation and WWW Worm simply listed results in the order they were found on the web.
This algorithm, a FIFO implementation, was not scaleable and these sites soon disappeared. RBSE

SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

however implemented a ranking system, and though not successful, was a significant contributor to
improving relevancy of search results.
Focusing on result quality, many university projects have led to the launch of new search engine
companies. The Architect project at Stanford used statistical analysis of word relationships to improve
search. A group of six graduate students spun this technology off into a startup called Excite. In early
1994, David Filo and Jerry Yang2 a couple of PhD students at Stanford started creating a directory of their
favorite web sites. As the number grew, they added a search capability to their directory and Yahoo! was
born. Soon after, Brian Pinkerton of the University of Washington launched WebCrawler3 which utilized
the first bot that indexed the entire content of a web page. Also in 1994, Lycos was founded. Michael
Mauldin the CTO was credited with the first use of word proximity in search results relevance. Infoseek
was also founded in 1994. Though they did not initially further search technology they were adopted by
Netscape as their default search engine giving them major traction in the market.
Additional incremental
innovation followed with natural Quality of
Search Results
language queries from AltaVista in
1995. Up until this point bots would Clusters
Meta-Search
simply follow links from one
Page Rank
document to another making it very
Natural
hard for new websites to gain Language
visibility. AltaVista began to allow
Word Proximity
customers to submit links rather than
just relying on bots. This, coupled Archie

with massive bandwidth, pushed 1990 2000 2010

AltaVista to an industry leading Figure 2: S-Curve for Quality of Search Results


position.
In 1996 Inktomi was founded by two students from Berkeley. Looksmart was also launched in
1996 which became the default search engine for MSN until 2004. This was followed by Ask Jeeves and

1991 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2001 2004
Archie RBSE Lycos Excite Looksmart Go To MSN Search Go Network Teoma Snap
WWW Worm Yahoo! AltaVista HotBot Ask Jeeves Google About.com
JumpStation WebCrawler Inktomi Northern Light AllTheWeb
Infoseek Megellan FindWhat
DejjaNews
De Snap
InfoSeek

Figure 3: Timeline of Search Evolution

SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

Northern Light in 1997. In 1998, Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, graduate students
in Computer Science at Stanford University. Goolge, initially called BackRub,4 gave precedence in search
results to sites that were the most frequently referenced or that were referenced by important sites. By
returning more meaningful search results, Goolge quickly became the number one search engine for the
web. It also became the default search engine for Yahoo! and AOL. The Teoma5 search engine, founded
by research scientist from Rutgers University in 2001, used a similar technique with clusters to organize
web pages into Subject Specific Popularity. Almost immediately after formation, Teoma was acquired by
Ask Jeeves to drive its search.
In 2004 Snap6 was launched by Bill Gross, the founder of Overture. Snap pushed search
technology further, by showing users how many others have searched for similar terms. Snap shows these
in search count order, giving the user ideas for different and related search terms. Search results are
displayed with statistics like number of user clicks (how many times this result was selected), the average
page views, and the cost to advertise for this result and the conversion rate if you do.

2.3 Market Trends


Search is moving from a web-based model, accessed by a browser, to the desktop. Tool bars were
created for Internet Explorer by all the major search engines. Google has also released a toolbar for the
Windows task bar. Both Google and MSN have
Searches Percent Of
added Desktop Search that combines web based Company7
(Millions) All Searches
search with search on the local machine. In addition Google 1,923 47.1%
to searching recently visited sites, Desktop Search Yahoo 868 21.2%
MSN 523 12.8%
also searches past emails, files on the local file
AOL 269 6.6%
system, and IM messages.
Ask 208 5.1%
Today, Google is the leading search engine EarthLink 37 0.9%
by more than a 2-to-1 margin over its nearest Others 258 6.3%
competitor. Eighty percent of all online searches are Total 4,086 100.0%

now controlled by the three largest search companies: Google, Yahoo and MSN. With oligopoly power
these firms are not content with the status quo. Intense rivalry exists to increase market share forcing each
firm to innovate or become marginalized.

2
http://soe.stanford.edu/AR95-96/jerry.html
3
WebCrawler was purchased by Excite in 1997
4
http://www.google.com/corporate/history.html
5
http://sp.teoma.com/docs/teoma/about/developmentteamhistory.html
6
http://www.snap.com/about/about.php
7
http://searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156451

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

3 Structure of the Industry


Born in the early 1990’s, the search industry has begun to mature. Market leadership is defined by
the site with the best search results and the highest user satisfaction. Behind the scenes the technology has
evolved beyond just algorithmic competition. Today it takes hundreds of thousands of computers,
working together in a clustered grid to index the billions of pages necessary to return adequate search
results. Google leads the way with over 8 billion indexed pages serviced by an infrastructure of over
250,000 computers.

3.1 Porter’s Five Forces Analysis


The search industry is a fast growth market with high spillover effects. The high growth,
especially in the B2B sector, helps firms continuously innovate and grow rapidly. However, the high
spillover allows followers to get into the market and gain market share. In addition, the capital cost for
entry is also low and infrastructure can be scaled as the user base grows. This makes operational costs
largely variable, increasing rivalry. On the other hand, it can be argued that revenue generation is mostly
through online advertising and a large user base is required to attract advertisers. The fixed cost for
generating any advertising revenue requires scaling of infrastructure and building a large loyal user base,
which can be expensive. This has led to significant market consolidation creating an oligopoly in the
industry with a few large players.
This trend is expected to
Threat of New Entrants continue when Microsoft releases
is Moderate
Longhorn, the next version of
Windows. In Longhorn, desktop
Suppli
Supplier
er Power Intensity of R
Intensity Rivalry
ivalry Buyer Power is search will be available from every
Is Low is High
High Moderate window, potentially eliminating the
need to go to a web site to search for
Availability of Substitutes content. In addition, context and
is Low
location information are expected to
be available for more accurate and
Figure 4: Five-forces Analysis of Search Industry
localized search.
Traditionally search engines have differentiated themselves on comprehensiveness of the search
index, the currency of the index, the relevance of the search results, and usability factors such as
simplicity, advanced search features, etc. As the industry has matured the ability to differentiate through
features and functionality has become increasingly difficult. The switching costs are very low for search
engine users. The development of proprietary APIs, by some players, to allow integration with other

SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

applications is an attempt at increasing switching costs for users. With no exit costs, market
consolidation, and high technology spillovers, competition in the industry is fierce.
While entry barriers into online search are low, consideration must be given to the entry barriers
to compete for online advertising. The advertising industry is a “two-sided” market (you need an existing
audience to attract advertisers) while the search industry is a regular market (you attract customers just
based on your solution). Barriers to entry for any multi-sided market are higher in general. In fact the
numbers are very compelling for online advertising – only the top 10 players generate any meaningful
revenue in online advertising. However, switching costs are low which makes the threat of new entrants
moderate.
The threat of substitutes for search is low in the online world. Possible substitutes exist in the
offline space to access print and other forms of offline media. Search is a “pull” technology in which the
user makes a conscious effort to locate particular content. Other “push” technologies that bring desired
content can reduce the user’s active search but even push techniques will most likely use search
technology behind the scenes.
Suppliers for search engines are primarily the content providers. Content is plentiful on the web
and (mostly) freely available for search engines to index, hence limiting supplier power.
Buyers can be divided into two categories: consumers and advertisers. Switching costs for both
consumers and advertisers are low which gives them moderate power. Both buyer types are rapidly
becoming more educated. Search spend is a small fraction of costs. Little threat of backward integration
exits.

3.2 System Model


Another way to understand the industry structure is to look at the dynamic model, see Error!
Reference source not found.. Here there are a number of reinforcing loops that drive search engine
success. These include innovation, word of mouth, economies of scale and scope, attractiveness to
advertisers, and standardization.
Innovation begins with investment in R&D. Search engines must innovate to drive user satisfaction
through new features and functionality and improved quality of results. Factors that lead to better Quality
of Results include the comprehensiveness of the search index, the currency of the index, and the relevance
of the search results. Additional factors driving User Satisfaction include ease of use, advanced search
features, suggestions for other searches, spell checking, and the availability of a tool bar. By increasing
User Satisfaction search firms retain customer and grow adoption through increased word of mouth.
Word of Mouth is another reinforcing loop that drives customer adoption. An initial core base of
users is required to trigger adoption through word of mouth. Once this is established, the more customers

SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

that use a search engine Innovation

and have a positive


experience, the more new
R
users become aware of it Quality of Results
Innovation User Satisfaction
and adopt it.
Additionally, marketing Word of Mouth

and advertising of the R

search engine can assist Search


Affiliates adoption Engine Users
in improving awareness
and further reinforce the Applications with
Web API
Search R
word of mouth loop. R
Attractiveness
Advertisers are Standards
R&D Spend
Ad Relavence
attracted to web sites that Advertisers

have a large user base.


Economies of
The more users using a Ad Costs R Scale & Scope
search engine, the more Number of
Revenue Views/Clicks
revenue can generate Marketing Spend

through higher click-


through rates and banner
Figure 5: Reinforcing loops for search engines.
ads that pay per thousand
views. In addition to these economies of scale, there are also economies of scope. Some search engines
include web portals and web applications as a way to draw in more adoption. Features like mail, Instant
Messaging, news services, classifieds and the like help make a site ‘sticky’, keeping users on the site
longer. This opens the door to more search advertisements and to alternative forms of advertisements like
rich media. In addition, with better quality search results, ads can be better targeted at the user. With 70%
of all searches focused on consumer goods, it is
critical to be able to place the right ad on the
right page.
Search engines also generate more
adoption through affiliate partnerships - by
enabling third party sites to use their search
engine. APIs can provide programmatic access
to the search engine, generating more clicks.
Open but proprietary standards for search APIs

Figure 6: Advertising and economic growth


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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

can further drive adoption and hence the ability to sell more advertising.
There is also a direct correlation between advertising spend and GDP, Personal Consumption
Expenditures and corporate profits. Research done by the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the University
of McCann has tracked this since 1971. This trend suggests larger market risk to publishers like Google
that generate all of the revenue from advertising spend compared to more diversified sites, like Yahoo!
and AOL that have other sources of revenue.
Innovation in the search engine space has led to vast improvements in targeting technology and in
measurement technology. This in turn has improved the effectiveness of online advertisers. The more
effective online advertising becomes, the more advertisers will spend as a percentage of their overall
advertising budget. In addition, the more targeted the ad placement and the better the measurement
metrics the more price tolerant advertisers become.
Market consolidation in search engines and
portals has created a premium market for advertising.
Advertisers are willing to pay a premium for the best ad
location on the pages with the most visibility. This
creates relative scarcity for the premium locations. The
top four publishers (Google, AOL, Yahoo! and MSN)
represent 50% of all ad spends online.
Figure 7: Ad spend skews to oligopolies In addition, broadband penetration into the home
market has made rich media a reality. With advertisers able to create TV quality advertisements online,
the market for search engines to deliver rich and interactive ads has created more interest by advertisers.
These three combined factors: relative scarcity, ad efficiency and rich media, have driven up the pricing
for online advertisers. The increase in pricing has led to more revenue for search engines which has
increased R&D spend on innovation. The incremental innovations improve the drivers for price increases,
creating a reinforcing loop.
Competitors
Technology
The main balancing loop in the search engine Technology

market is competition. The technology gap between any


Firm R&D Spend Competitors R&D
Relative Search Spend
two firms results in decreased search performance. Results Gap

Decreased performance means less adoption which


Competitor
decreases revenue and hence R&D investment. With less Firm Revenue Revenue

Adoption
investment a firm is less likely to innovate causing the
results gap to open further. With high spillovers, IP
protection is of marginal value. Competitors quickly copy
Figure 8: Balancing loops
each other, avoiding direct IP confrontation. The key to

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

minimizing this effect is constant technology innovation.

4 Value Capture in the Online Search Industry


Online advertising began in 1994 when HotWired (now wired.com) launched its site with ads
from AT&T, Sprint, MCI, and Volvo. This sparked the interest of Roy and Jay Schwedelson, who started
WebConnect with the idea to sell banner ad placement. Soon after, WebConnect went live with an online
advertising media kit. Once they rolled out accurate measurement tools allowing customers to track click-
through rates and provided banner rotation8 web
advertising was born.

4.1 Value Creation vs. Value •Google


High
Capture •Yahoo!

Initially the Search industry was all about


Value •MSN Search
value creation with little to none in value capture.
Captured •Ask Jeeves
Early search engines were created as free utilities.
•Alta Vista
Yahoo! was one of the first companies to monetize •Inktomi
•WWW Wanderer •Excite
on-line search through advertising. Yahoo! Low •Gopher
•Infoseek
allowed advertisers to place banner ads on the •Veronica •Lycos
•Archie
search results page for a fee. Search engines were Low High
able to show different ads based on the surfing Value Created
Figure 9: Value Created vs. Value Captured by Search Engine
habits of the individual user. For example, if the
user profile shows that that user frequently visits automobile related web sites, that user may indeed see
an automobile ad on the page. As the search industry matured, several new strategies for value
appropriation emerged. These include ad dollars in flat-fee formats such as those used in traditional
media; e.g. print ads like Yellow Pages or newspapers, and analog media, such as TV or radio. Today's
online advertising allows both flat-fee approaches for static ad placement as well as interactive online
methods that are based on transactional charges. Most of the attention and success has been focused on
the new transactional advertising models, including:
1. Display Advertising: Advertiser pays an online company for space to display a static or hyperlinked
banner or logo on one or more of the online company’s pages.
2. Sponsorship: Advertisers sponsor targeted Web sites or email areas (e.g., entire web site, site area, an
event, parts or all of an email message). Sponsorship usually contains banner elements.

8
Banner ad rotation allows banner ads to rotate between multiple sites for a single ad purchase.

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

3. E-mail: Banner ads, links or advertiser sponsorships that appear in e-mail newsletters, e-mail
marketing campaigns and other commercial e-mail communications. Includes all types of electronic
mail (e.g., basic text or HTML-enabled).
4. Search: Fees advertisers pay online companies to list and/or link their company site domain name to a
specific search word or phrase (includes paid search revenues). Search categories include:
• Paid listings: Text links appear at the top or side of search results for specific keywords. The
more a marketer pays, the higher the position it gets. Marketers only pay when a user clicks on
the text link.
• Contextual search: Text links appear in an
article based on the context of the content,
instead of a user-submitted keyword. Payment
only occurs when the link is clicked.
• Paid inclusion: Guarantees that a marketer’s
URL is indexed by a search engine. The listing
is determined by the engine's search
algorithms.
• Site optimization: Modifies a site to make it
easier for search engines to automatically
Figure 10: Advertising Revenue by Category index the site and hopefully result in better
placement in results.
5. Referrals: Fees advertisers pay to online companies that refer qualified leads or purchase inquiries
(e.g., automobile dealerships which pay a fee in exchange for receiving a qualified purchase inquiry
online, fees paid when users register, or apply for credit card, contest or other service).
6. Classifieds and auctions: Fees advertisers pay online companies to list specific products or services
(e.g., online job boards and employment listings, real estate listings, automotive listings, auction-
based listings, yellow pages).
7. Rich media: Advertisements that integrate some component of streaming video and/or audio and
interactivity, in addition to flash or java script ads, and can allow users to view and interact with
products or services (e.g., a multimedia product description, a “virtual test-drive”). “Interstitials” are
included within the rich media category and represent full-or partial-page text and image server-push
advertisements which appear in the transition between two pages of content. Forms of interstitials can
include splash screens, pop-up windows and superstitials.

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

8. Slotting fees: Fees charged to advertisers by online companies to secure premium positioning of an
advertisement on their site, category exclusivity or similar preference positioning (similar to slotting
allowances charged by retailers).

4.2 Critical Factors of Value Capture


Some of the core components of a search engine's monetization approach have comprised a
combination of uniqueness and complementary assets including the following:
1. Relevancy before monetization: For some portals, search is their core business. For others, like
Yahoo! or AOL, it is part of a much broader business. To achieve maximum benefit out of any
monetization strategy, a search engine company must keep the priority on relevancy (and diversity) of
results; an updated, user-friendly interface; ever-increasing inventory; and improving the search tool's
understanding of the audience's query type.
2. Provide unique search technologies: A search engine has to consider what differentiates its search
product from others, and whether or not it clearly provides a perceived value to both search users and
advertisers. For example, AskJeeves' differentiates itself by allowing broader type queries.
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3. Encourage commercial search: Commercial search accounts for 30% of all search queries . These
queries are just as complex as their non-commercial counterparts in terms of range of needs and
required quantity of relevant results. For a significant portion of queries, users are expressing needs
that businesses satisfy best.
4. Present a diversity of vendors, partners, products, and sales channels: All search engine companies
have created paid inclusion or paid placement programs to obtain broader reach for more targeted
advertising audiences.
5. Keep operational expenses cost effective: Infrastructure to carry for so much search traffic can be
very costly if not carefully supervised. Search engine companies must regular monitor peak usage
times on their Web servers; improve on their software efficiency with Web servers; and limit the size
and complexity of database sizes and search nodes.

4.3 Value Capture across Firms - Uniqueness vs. Complementary Assets


The 3 major search vendors, Google, Yahoo and MSN, have different strategies for competing
online using different combination of uniqueness and complementary assets. Understanding the
differences is important in understating the overall market.
Yahoo! was one of the early search engine companies, developed in 1994. Despite all the
changes in the search space over the years, Yahoo! has remained one of the most popular search

9
Source: Gary Cromwell, Search Engine Watch, December 16th, 2003.

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

destinations on the web. Yahoo! stood out from its early competitors by using humans to catalog the web,
thus building uniqueness into its directory system. Crawler-based results from its partners only kicked in
if there were no human-powered matches. That actually made search results by Yahoo! more relevant
than competitors, making uniqueness its primary strategy for value capture for many years. However, as
the industry matured, crawler-based results became both comprehensive and highly relevant. Yahoo!
caught up in October 2002, when it Complementary Assets
dropped its human-powered results in Available Tightly Held
preference to Google's results. The The Inventor’s Dream The Big Win

Yahoo! Directory still exists and is


leveraged by the company, but today's Easy to
Maintain
Yahoo! is a far different from what it
was in its early years. Over time,
Uniqueness
Yahoo! had developed several Few returns to Complementary
Innovation? Assets play
complementary assets including one of •Yahoo! (expanding portal,
•Alta Vista
brand)
the most popular customizable portals •Lycos
•Google (index, portal, brand)
•Ask Jeeves
Hard to •AOL (unique content,
with 25 international sites in 13 •Infoseek
broadband, AIM,mapquest)
Maintain •Inktomi
•MSN Search (Windows,
languages, a widely recognized online Office, IE)

brand, personalized Web pages, e-mail,


Figure 11: Uniqueness vs. Complementary Assets
chat rooms, and message boards. While
most of its sales come from advertising, the company also charges fees for additional mailbox space,
personal ads, and other services. Yahoo! also provides Internet access through a deal with SBC
Communications.
MSN was a late entrant into the search industry and has adopted a pure complementary assets
strategy from the very beginning. Until recently, it outsourced its search technology, providing a mixture
of results from LookSmart and Inktomi. MSN announced the first version of web search using its own
technology in 2005. Strong existing complementary assets, such as the MSN portal and the search feature
within its Internet Explorer browser, have made MSN Search one of the most popular search engines on
the web. Over time, it hopes to further integrate with other “tightly held” complementary assets such as
its Windows operating system and Office suite, creating value through “ease-of-use” and significantly
increasing switching-costs – both ultimately facilitating value capture.
Google's ability to analyze links from across the web helped it produce a new generation of
highly relevant, crawler-based results. Its initial success was due to its unique high speed, highly scalable
indexing capability combined with a unique relevancy based ranking of search results and a simple, easy-
to-use interface. While maintaining uniqueness remains hard, Google has continued to continuously

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

invest in its search technology, thus building a reputation (i.e. complementary asset) for being ahead of
the curve in technological innovation. Simultaneously, Google has built a portfolio of complementary
assets including text translation and image searching services; tools such as a Google dictionary, a Google
phone book, and Web log publishing tool Blogger; Google Local to help users find maps, locally relevant
Web sites, and listings from businesses in their area; a social networking site called Orkut, and free
search-based e-mail service called Gmail. In 2004 Google announced plans to purchase online photo
sharing company Picasa, as well as Keyhole, a supplier of online satellite maps that allow users to zoom
down to street level to specific locations. Later that year the company unveiled a digital project giving
Web searchers access to millions of books from the libraries of leading universities. By combining
continuous innovation (uniqueness) with an extensive portfolio of “tightly held” complementary assets,
Google is today, the most popular search engine in use and one of the most successful internet based
companies when it comes to value capture.
Several other search engines that initially gained some momentum through uniqueness have since
disappeared due to their inability to build “tightly held” complementary assets during the “take-off” stage
of the industry. Some of the notable ones include Infoseek, Lycos, Inktomi, Ask Jeeves and Alta Vista.
See section 7.2 for a detailed discussion of uniqueness vs. complementary assets strategy for value
capture among these players.
As the search engine market took-off and matured, given the lack of opportunities for iron-clad IP
protection, the players that focused on building “tightly held” complementary assets have succeeded in
capturing value and have continued to survive.

5 Google’s Competitive Position


So how does Google stack up? Google’s competitive position and its ability to gain sustainable
competitive advantage can best be described using Porter’s Value Chain to see where Google captures
value and Porter’s Four-Corners Analysis to allow us to predict Goggle’s future strategy.

5.1 Value Chain


An understanding of the value chain of the online search and advertising industry and the
positions occupied by the various players helps us better analyze Google’s ability to create, capture, and

Content
Provider

Ad Ad Web ISP/Infra-
ISP/Infra- Browser/
Advertiser Consumer
Agency Server Property structure OS

Figure 12: Value Chain of Online Advertising Industry

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

deliver value in this industry.


At one end of the value chain we have the consumer using a browser and operating system (OS)
to access the internet. Microsoft, arguably, has an established monopoly in the browser and OS space
with its Internet Explorer and the Windows operating system. Any request or data has to pass through an
Internet Service Provider (ISP) or infrastructure provider. Several players including AOL and Microsoft
play in this space. The web property includes the search engine or the portal which is the primary
mechanism for delivering value. Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL Time Warner, etc. all have such web
properties. Various content providers supply content to this web property. Time Warner is an example of
a dominant player in the content creation space. At the other end of the value chain are advertisers
interested in targeting products and services to the appropriate consumers. Ad agencies help identify the
appropriate consumer profile and create ads with the appropriate message. The important task of
matching up the right ads to the right consumers is done by a sophisticated piece of technology - the Ad
Server. Companies such as Doubleclick, Yahoo!, and Google are well positioned in this space.

5.2 Creating Value


So how does Google create value? Google is known for its sophisticated search algorithms,
relevancy based ranking of results, an ever increasing index of web pages (Google’s search index is the
largest with over 8 billion pages) and for setting the standard in simplicity, usability, and search features.
Through its technology, Google provides complete and efficient access to the vast array of content on the
web. Google also creates value for retailers by understanding the consumer and their current search
context to create a unique channel for marketing relevant products and services. Finally, their superior
technology attracts a large number of users. The larger the number of users the better Google’s relevancy
ranking which in turn creates additional value to consumers and attracts more users. A large user base
attracts a large partner network which provides a variety of relevant products that creates additional
consumer value. This establishes a powerful, reinforcing web-based consumer marketplace.

5.3 Capturing Value


Google has succeeded not only in creating phenomenal value but also finding innovative means of
appropriating value. Three primary vehicles are used today to capture value: context sensitive ads, ad
placement services, and search appliances.
Google has the ability to places context sensitive ads, selected according to the words used in the
search, on search results. Advertisers bid in highly complex auctions for the right to place ads on results
pages for searches that use specific terms like used cars, SUVs, etc.

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Over half of Google’s revenue and profits come from its external advertising network. Google
manages advertising for a wide network of external websites for which it provides ad placement services
through its AdWord and AdSense products.
Google also sells a search appliance, a Linux server running its indexing and search software, to
organizations wishing to provide search services for their internal Web servers. This business, however, is
currently quite small contributing less than 2% of total revenue to the firm.

5.4 Delivering Value


Google has developed a variety of channels for delivering value and continues to expand these. The
key delivery methods include:
• Localization of Google Search Engine to over 100 languages and cultures.
• Focused e-Commerce with Froogle
• Google News with continuously updated content from 4,500 sources and real time stock quotes
• Desktop search for private content
• Vertical searches e.g. mapquest, keyhole, job-search
• Collaboration tools E.g. Google Groups, Gmail, Blogger, IM, Catalogs, Directories, etc.
• Platform play with APIs for web, mobile, many others devices

5.5 Competitive Response


Google maintains some uniqueness through IP patents on its algorithms and has built entry
barriers through its massive infrastructure - a farm of 250,000 servers currently indexing 8 billion pages
of content. Google has combined its search engine with sophisticated text-matching and auction systems
to target, price, sell, and evaluate its ads, both those placed on its own site and those on its affiliates. It is
also building platform capabilities with proprietary APIs, leading the evolving search standards, and
supporting an open architecture across multiple hardware and operating system platforms.

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Drivers Current Strategy


• Power of technology Create value by:
• Ubiquitous, just- in-time • Attracting the most eyeballs in
information that is the web-based consumer
universally accessible. market
• Gatekeeper for public and • Create a unique channel for
private content through all products and services by
devices. understand the current
• Create a great work context of the consumer
environment. Hire great Capture value through:
talent. Do no evil! • Context sensitive ads
• Ad Placement Services

f Future Strategy f

Assumptions Capabilities
• Content is plentiful; finding • Superior Brand: #1 online
what is relevant to you at brand!
this time is what is crucial • Superior technology for
• Contextual advertising is a search and indexing
powerful source for revenue • Sophisticated ad placement
generation and management capability
• Controlling on-line ad • Largest audience base
placement universally is provides greatest relevance of
one mechanism for value content and allows for
appropriation strongest affiliate network;
• Emerging and merging reinforcing loops.
markets offer the greatest • $56 billion market cap -
opportunity and greatest facilitates acquisition
threats for future growth. • Growing platform capabilities
• Standards matter through open/private APIs.
• Microsoft is the evil empire!

Figure 13: Four Corners Analysis of Google Competitive Positioning

While Google’s achievement to date is no small feat, its very success has increased competitive
rivalry and attracted the attention and focus of powerful players like Microsoft and Yahoo!. Microsoft,
specifically, with its extraordinary resources and ability to persist, has a history of coming from behind
and tipping the market in its favor; Word over WordPerfect, Excel over Lotus 123, and Internet Explorer
over Netscape are just a few examples. With very low switching costs, there is little that prevents
consumers from switching to Microsoft search especially if it is seamlessly integrated with other
Microsoft products that they are currently using. A technology strategy based on a clear understanding of
the market dynamics is critical in order for Google to defy the odds and maintain its dominant position.

5.6 Creation & Control of Proprietary Industry Standards


With the explosion of digital content, thanks to the web, its organization, search and retrieval for all
types of devices is envisioned to have far reaching impacts over the next decade. As the market extends
well beyond the web into enterprise applications and other consumer devices, a plethora of new search
products and services will emerge to serve these needs. In order to truly create value, interoperability

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between these new products and services as well as their integration with other applications is essential.
Establishing search standards to facilitate this interoperability will be critical to value creation and
retention. However, standards create new competitive
forces in the industry. All customers want to be on the
winning standard to take advantage of interoperability.
Value of Increasing
As the percentage of market share (or perceived market standard to returns

share) for any one particular standard increases beyond a customer

“tipping point” the value of that standard to the customer


increases exponentially. The underlying logic of the
search engine, including the hierarchy of how it lists % market share
websites in its results page, is likely to converge into one Figure 14: Future dynamics of the search market
standard. People searching on the Web will become used to how results are arranged based on their
searches, switching costs will increase, and increasingly customers will be locked in. At the same time,
designers will optimize their Web pages around the standardized search logic so that their pages are
prioritized in the results based on the keywords entered into the search. Finally, advertisers will pay more
to have ads placed with the leading search engine technology, which will further reinforce the move
toward standardization. Once a standard is set, it becomes very difficult to displace the incumbent - the
customer is locked in to a particular product. This creates a “winner take all” dynamic in the market.

Standards are: Google needs to take advantage of its market


Closed Open
leadership to build and establish search standards
and gain market share quickly to tip it in its favor.
Private By increasing the number of ways users can search
•Yahoo! •Google
•Microsoft
and the different types of search, Google will
Ownership is: increase its presence to support a bid for it
becoming the de-facto standard in search. Google
•Lucy must tread lightly though for Microsoft is the king
Public
of winning competitive fights based on standards.
After Google’s attack on the desktop, with toolbars,
Figure 15: Access vs. Ownership of Search taskbars and desktop search, Microsoft has
announced its intent on ‘defining’ the standards in the search space. In an industry where strong network
externalities exist, a race to become the standard will quickly take place.

Creating and establishing the dominant standard by itself does not guarantee a successful business.
Google also needs to be able to appropriate value from its market share. Figure 15 shows the dimensions
of access vs. ownership in search standards and the likely positions of the various players. Yahoo!

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currently has proprietary, closed standards. While this has enabled significant value appropriation in the
past, it will be difficult to tip that market in its favor given the network effects of the future, as described.
Public domain search engines, like Lucy, will adopt an open standard with public ownership. While it
could be argued that public standards are perhaps the fastest way to cause the market to tip to a particular
standard, it is very difficult to appropriate value from public standards. In order to appropriate value in
this market, Google needs to establish open standards that are proprietary Google needs to use its #1
brand position and the current technology gap it has created ahead of its competitors to build proprietary
standards while retaining and increasing adoption.

6 Google’s Future Strategy


So how can Google accomplish this? We recommend that following broad strategic thrusts for
Google going forward.

6.1 Grow Current Consumer Markets


Google has become synonymous with search. Being the # 1 brand on the web, people often refer to
searching as ‘googling’. With this kind of brand awareness, Google needs to continue to grow its search
presence. Today Google has expanded basic and advanced search to include:

• Topic specific searches – Searching for information specific to Apple, BSD Unix, Linux and
Microsoft. Google also offers search for all US Government sites; hundreds of distinct
Universities like MIT, Stanford, and Brown; and Google Scholar which searches through
scholarly papers.

• Local Search – Searching for consumer goods and services in the context of geography (place).

• Desktop Search – Searches the local desktop for content as well as the web.

• Catalog Search – Search through mail-order catalogs for goods and services.

• Mobile Search – Search from wireless handheld devices.

Google must continue expanding search solutions. To that, Google has recently announced new search
solutions including:

• Search History – Allows a user to review all past search done at Google and gives feedback and
suggestions based on your past searches.

• Ride Finder – Searches for Taxi cabs, limousines and shuttle buses using real time position of the
vehicles.

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• Google Maps – Search for geographic locations along with driving direction and time estimates.
In addition, Google offers two unique features over MapQuest and other rivals. First, after the
user finds a location, they can see a satellite image of the location. Second, when searching for an
address, Google points out what is at the address, by name when it can, and surrounding points of
interests.

• Google Suggest – As you type Google offers key words to help improve search key accuracy
hence improving search results.

• Personalized Search – Users enter profile information regarding interests in arts, business,
computers, health, home, kids, music, recreation, regions, science, society and sports. Google
then uses this information to help improve search results.

6.2 Provide Ubiquity across Devices


Today data is stored and retrieved on many different devices. PDA’s and Blackberries are the norm
for business users. A proliferation of new computing devices can be envisioned in the future through
which digital content is searched and accessed. These present a great opportunity for growth. Google
should extend it search capabilities to search not only the desktop, but also the palmtop and every such
consumer device of the future. By adding integrated search support across all these devices, through
standardized API’s, Google can become the ubiquitous platform for information retrieval any time, any
where.

6.3 Expand Globally


Currently Google derives 30% of its revenue from international sites. With support for over 100
dialects, Google is well on its way to having a global presence. However, consumer devices other than
the traditional desktop are creating significant expansion of global markets, like India and China. In order
to remain competitive and ensure that large international markets do not “tip” away from it, Google must
continue its expansion in these until all relevant markets are captured. Additionally, Google can partner
with Linux players in these markets (e.g. China, where Linux is widely adopted) to become the “Intel
Inside” for non-Microsoft operating systems, thus building more complementary assets.

6.4 Penetrate Enterprise Markets


Another area for expansion beyond the consumer market for Google is the private applications of
enterprises. In order to find its place in the enterprise application value chain Google needs to transform
itself into a platform. Figure 16 shows the value chain of the enterprise software application market and
the likely position of search engines if Google successfully penetrates this space.

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Operating Search Business


Database Middleware Services
System Engine Application

Figure 16: Value Chain of the Search Enterprise Market


Note that the search engine can, both, seamlessly integrate with the operating system or search
dynamically generated pages from the database layer above. Such a platform enables significant value
creation and value capture for Google. Today advertisers are attracted to Google because of ad
efficiency. Presenting an ad for a good that a user is searching for on the results page for that search
maximizes the efficiency for each individual ad. The next logical step would be to tie ads with inventory
control so that marketers can align promotions with the level of stock. If Google, for example, could
integrate search ad placement with backend ERP systems, advertisers could vary prices based on
inventory levels. When inventory is high, sale prices could be offered, then as inventory decreases, sale
price flatten out and finally as inventory goes to zero, the ads could stop being displayed. There are other
strategies for pricing but the point is that tying ad placement together with inventory would allow
advertisers to fine tune campaigns an hence create more value appropriation.

6.5 Build Networks & Partnerships


Google needs to continue building partnerships, especially in the enterprise markets. Partnerships and
integration with database vendors like Oracle, ERP vendors like SAP, and operating systems like Linux
will enable it to continue adding value to its client base (seamless integration) while simultaneously
increasing switching-costs for its customers.

6.6 Conclusion
Winning the search engine game is all about innovation and strategy. If the past is any indication of
the future, simply having the best product will not lead to a winning position. In a market dominated with
major players and where market disruption is only a new entrant away, Google can never rest. To win,
Google must continue to grow its customer base and API adoption and drive the market to standardizing
on its technology. In the first quarter of 2005, Google announced record revenues of $1.26 billion, up
93% year-to-year over 2004. This growth stems from stronger site traffic and increases in the size of the
Google Network. Google is clearly winning the battles - the question remaining is will they win the war?
Will they do what few others have ever done, beat Microsoft? As the future unfolds, we’ll have to google
it to find out…

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7 Appendix
7.1 History of Search Engines and Directories
Below is a table showing a summary of the history of search engines and directories. This table is
updated as historical events occur within the search engine industry and as new information becomes
available about past search engine history.
Historical data last modified: 2005-03-2110
2005 March . . .
2005
R1 IAC/InterActiveCorp
. . .
acquires AskJeeves
2005 March 2005 March 2005 January 2005 January
2005
R2 Yahoo! Celebrates Overture Renamed Gigablast Index Size AOL Search
10th Anniversary Yahoo! SMS 1,000,000,000+ Relaunches
2004 November 2004 November 2004 August 19 2004 September
2004
R1 Google Index Size Google IPO Amazon launches
New MSN Search
8,058,044,651 GOOG NASDAQ A9.com Search
2004 August 2004 June 2004 June 2004 June
2004
R2 Yahoo! launches New MSN Search AOL acquires Yahoo! launches
Local Search Engine Technology Preview Advertising.com Yisou.com China
2004 June 2004 June 2004 March 2004 March
2004
R3 Ask Jeeves acquires Google invests in AltaVista switches Google Gmail
Tukaroo Search Baidu Search China to Yahoo! Search free email service
2004 March 2004 March 2004 March 2004 March
2004
R4 Yahoo! Toolbar AlltheWeb switches AskJeeves acquires Yahoo! Site Match™
with WebRank to Yahoo! Search Excite, iWon, My Way powered by Overture
2004 February 2004 February 2004 February 2004 January
2004
R4 Yahoo! Web Search Lycos Search Lycos Communities New MSN
powered by Yahoo! discontinued discontinued Search BETA
2003 October 2003 October 2003 July 2003 June
2003
R1 Google acquires Yahoo! acquires Yahoo! to buy
Google AdSense
Sprinks Overture Overture
2003 April 2003 April 2003 April 2003 April
2003
R2 FindWhat acquires Google acquires Overture acquires Overture acquires
Espotting Applied Semantics AltaVista Fast/AlltheWeb
2003 March . . .
2003
R3 Yahoo! acquires
. . .
Inktomi
2002 December 2002 July 2002 March 2002 March
2002
R1 Gigablast LookSmart acquires Gigablast
Froogle
Beta WiseNut Pre-Beta
2002 2002 February . . .

10
Source: http://www.seoconsultants.com/search-engines/history/

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

R2 Google
. . .
AdWords Select
2001 October 2001 September 2001 September 2001 August
2001
R1 GoTo changes AskJeeves acquires LookSmart
WiseNut
name to Overture Teoma integrates Zeal
2001 May 2001 April 2001 February 2001 February
2001
R2 Google acquires
JoeAnt Teoma GoGuides
Deja Archive
2000 December 2000 October 2000 September 2000 September
2000
R1 LookSmart acquires
Google Toolbar Google AdWords Espotting
Zeal Media
2000 September 2000 June 2000 June 2000 May
2000
R2 Yahoo! Web Search Terra acquires
Business.com Vivísimo
powered by Google Lycos
1999 November 1999 September 1999 August 1999 July
1999
R1 Disney acquires
NBCi/Snap FindWhat AlltheWeb
Infoseek
1999 June 1999 February 1999 January 1999
1999
R2 CMGI acquires At Home acquires
GO Network About.com
AltaVista Excite
1998 October 1998 September 1998 September 1998 June
1998
R1 Lycos acquires
Google MSN Search ODP/DMOZ
Wired/HotBot
1998 May 1998 April 1998 .
1998
R2 Yahoo! Web Search GoTo acquires
Direct Hit .
powered by Inktomi WWW Worm
1997 August 1997 July 1997 April 1997 February
1997
R1 The Mining
Northern Light FAST Search Ask Jeeves
Company
1997 1997 . . .
R2 GoTo . . .
1996 1996 October 1996 June 1996 May 1996 April
R1 LookSmart Archive.org HotBot Alexa
1996 1996 January 1996 1996 .
R2 BackRub Mamma Dogpile .
1995 1995 December 1995 October 1995 September 1995 August
R1 AltaVista Excite Inktomi Magellan
1995 1995 August 1995 June 1995 May 1995 February
R2 DejaNews MetaCrawler SavvySearch Infoseek
1994 December 1994 July 1994 April 1994 April
1994
R1 First W3C
Lycos Yahoo! WebCrawler
meeting at MIT
1994 1994 January 1994 . .
R2 Galaxy Open Text . .
1993 1993 December 1993 December 1993 December 1993 November

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SLOAN FELLOWS PROGRAM IN INNOVATION & GLOBAL LEADERSHIP

R1 RBSE JumpStation WWW Worm Aliweb


1993 August 1993 June 1993 March 1993 March
1993
R2 Mosaic First email message
WWW Wanderer Jughead
Web Browser sent by Bill Clinton
1993 1993 February . . .
R3 Architext . . .
1992 December 1992 July . .
1992
R1 Lynx
Veronica . .
Web Browser
1991 May 1991 April 1991 April .
1991
R1 WWW Server WAIS publisher
Gopher .
Production fed search engine
1990 December 1990 . .
1990
R1 WWW Server
Archie . .
Prototype

7.2 Value Capture Strategy of Followers


In this section, we discuss the uniqueness vs. complementary assets strategy for value capture among
some of the followers in the industry. Specifically, we explore Infoseek, Lycos, Inktomi, Ask Jeeves and
AltaVista.

• Infoseek (1995-2001) originally hoped to capture value through uniqueness – combining a manually
maintained directory with a spidered index – and charge for searching. When that failed, the popular
search engine shifted to depending like others on banner ads. Disney took a large stake in the
company in 1998 and tried building complementary assets by going down the "portal" path that other
leading search engines had followed. The site was also renamed "Go." Its failure to maintain
uniqueness or build strong complementary assets caused Disney to stop Go's own internal search
capabilities abruptly in early 2001. Today, Go remains operating, powered by Yahoo!
• Lycos (1994; reborn 1999) operated one of the web's earliest crawler-based search engines. Lycos
stopped depending on that spider in 1999 and instead now outsources for its search results from Ask
Jeeves.
• Inktomi (1996; acquired 2003) grew based on the uniqueness of its powerful search engine - a
technology called "Concept Induction™" to automatically analyze and categorize millions of
documents incorporating algorithms that model human conceptual understanding of information. Its
failure to build complementary assets resulted in it being acquired by Yahoo! in 2003. Its search
engine lives on as Yahoo! Search.
• Ask Jeeves (1998; reborn 2002; acquired 2005) originally hailed as the "natural language" search
engine didn't really have the ability to understand language. Instead, Ask Jeeves had over 100 editors
monitoring what people searched for, then hand-selecting sites that seemed to best answer the queries.

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Such an approach is good for the most popular queries but doesn't help when people want unusual
information. Ask purchased Direct Hit in early 2000, to make it more comprehensive. The company
failed to capitalize on that technology, and tried again by purchasing Teoma in 2001. In 2002, it
shifted over to relying on Teoma for nearly all of its matches. It was acquired in 2005 by
InterActiveCorp (IAC), and still lives as Ask.com.
• AltaVista (1995 - 2003) was the Google of its day. AltaVista offered access to a huge index of web
sites, when it launched in December 1995. The search engine quickly grew in popularity, driven by
uniqueness. It was re-launched as a portal (an attempt at building complementary assets) in October
1999, entering an already crowded field and taking its attention away from uniqueness - the quality of
its search results. It paid the price as unsatisfied users flocked to newcomer Google. Throughout
everything, AltaVista's crawler has kept going. It was acquired by Overture in 2003 which is now part
of Yahoo!

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