Google is now world-renowned as the king of search engines, but do you remember the likes of Alta Vista and Excite helped us navigate around the web?
It has become one of the biggest and most powerful companies.
But before it grew to the scale we see today another search engine called Excite was widely used.
As we now know, there’s a reason why no-one says “Yahoo it” or “Bing it” – it’s because Google is the go-to search engine and a used for millions of people.
There are people who use Google hundreds of times a day.
This is why it would obviously be a shrewd business move for companies to have invested in it when it was in its infancy.
In 1999, Google was growing fast.
But during that time, another search engine had a chance to make a major investment that would’ve changed its fortunes.
That company was called Excite.com.
At the time, Excite was the number two search engine behind Yahoo.
Speaking on the Internet History Podcast, former Excite CEO George Bell revealed why he decided against the deal.
“One condition” led to Excite deal collapsing
The company had the chance to buy a $750,000 stake in Google, but bargaining proved very difficult.
Mr Bell said Google co-founder Larry Page had one condition that led to a stand-off.
He said: “Ultimately, Larry said, ‘Look, I like the engineers at Excite’.
“I really like the company. I get that you don’t see a lot of difference.”
“And, I think we struck a price. I believe that the price was $750,000 in cash, and something like one percent of Excite.
“The economics of that were really OK to us.
“The thing that Larry insisted on that we all do recall, is that Larry said, “If we come to work for Excite, you need to rip out all the Excite technology and replace it with Google’s search.”
“And, ultimately, that’s, in my recollection, where the deal fell apart.
“Because, we had hundreds of engineers at that point, and culturally, we really were driven by technology.
“And I didn’t think we could survive… or the differentiation in search results were clearly not dramatic enough to justify the cultural risk that Larry would insist on.
“So, ultimately, we passed.”
The good news is Excite is still going.
It now operates on a far smaller scale in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria.