Former Lead Inktomi Engineer On Why Google Beat Them

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Inktomi was the search engine that many SEOs focused on when optimizing their sites – they powered Yahoo, HotBot and many other portals and search engines. But soon later, Google began to dominate and Inktomi was bought out by Yahoo for just $250 million.

Diego Basch, a former Senior Software Engineer at Inktomi, who is now Director of Engineering at LinkedIn explained why on his personal blog.

He outlines the major signs of the fall of Inktomi when he noticed most of the engineers at Inktomi using Google to find content, instead of Inktomi. But why? Why did Inktomi fail? He feels there are many reasons but the core reasons include:

  • Inktomi didn’t control the front-end, they feed results to their partners such as Yahoo who controlled that search results experience.
  • Inktomi didn’t have snippets or caching despite his efforts to do so, he was shot down by the executives.

Basch explains:

In short, Google had realized that a search engine wasn’t about finding ten links for you to click on. It was about satisfying a need for information.

Related Topics: Business Issues: General | Channel: Industry | Search Engines: Other Search Engines


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • cryptblade

    And this is why social search and social media is a bunch of BS. The NEED for UNBIASED information (such as unbiased NEWS eh-hm, CNN, MSNBC, FOX…!) will always be needed (another reason why Libraries have lasted for millenia).

  • Arnaud Fischer ★★★

    Well, I thought Inktomi was fine at the time, focused on Search in opposition to Altavista trying to become an all purpose portal going after Yahoo! instead of focusing on Search. It’s just that Google made very very smart decisions across and executed very very well.

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