Another AltaVista Grab for Portal Glory

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Why buy a portal when you can build your own? Internet incubator CMGI will unveil a beefed-up version of its AltaVista search engine today. Promotion spending for the next nine months is budgeted at $120 million, $8 million of which will be spent today. That's a lot of money, for sure, but it's still much cheaper than getting a portal on the open market. Yahoo wanna-be Lycos, another big CMGI investment, is currently worth $5 billion now, with the real Yahoo currently trading at nearly nine times that figure.

It's about time that AltaVista got some serious support. The service began as a tech experiment at the former Digital, but through deals with Yahoo it established itself early on as the most thorough search index of the Web. Digital and then Compaq tried to capitalize on the Top 10 traffic by adding "stickier" features such as subject directories and free e-mail, but that only created opportunities for new index companies like Inktomi, and now Google, to service the established portals — even while the attempts at a fuller AltaVista site floundered. MORE >>