Jump to the: [content for this page][navigation menu.]

Inktomi: A brief history of the Inktomi search engine

Inktomi search engine, provider of search results to MSN, HotBot and other search tools

Inktomi was a key player in the search engine market, but also one that was little known, as it operated 'behind the scenes' without having a search facility under its own brand. It is now part of Yahoo! and central to the development of Yahoo!'s own search engine technology. 

Having first appeared in September 1995 Inktomi was initially a pioneer of online search techniques and went on to power some of the leading web tools, notably MSN, HotBot, Looksmart and others, as well as a number of regional search engines. Dozens of other major web sites used Inktomi Enterprise Search to power their on-site search engines.

When it was launched, Inktomi claimed to have the largest web index of more than 1.3 million documents on the World Wide Web. It was created by Eric Brewer, then an assistant professor of computer science at University College of Berkeley, and graduate student Paul Gauthier. The project was initially funded by the US government's Advanced Research Projects Agency, but it became a commercial organisation in early 1996 and soon after it gained its first major customer with the HotBot search engine.

Soon afterwards, Inktomi removed the direct interface to its search engine from the web, opting instead to operate as a provider of search for other web portals, rather than directly competing with other sites. A major coup came with the agreement to power Yahoo!'s supplementary search results, and during the years of web boom at the end of the 90's, the Inktomi Corporation went public and rapidly increased in value.

The company grew quickly, offering a variety of web search, e-commerce and enterprise search products, but then Inktomi suffered a serious of setbacks and business realignments, so that it moved to just focus purely on search technologies. In 2000 Inktomi lost their Yahoo! contract to Google and subsequently lost further market share when AOL and Netscape Search also moved their search indexes to Inktomi's biggest rival.

During this time Inktomi was also the first major search engine to launch a paid inclusion service, whereby websites could submit pages on a subscription basis in return for regular and frequent re-indexing. The company's acquisition by Yahoo at the start of 2003 heralded a new dawn for this pioneering search tool and although its technology is central to Yahoo!'s search engine database, the Inktomi search engine brand has now been absorbed and it has disappeared as a standalone search engine.

If you'd like to know more about Inktomi, or to find out how your website can achieve a top ranking on the main search engines, contact us for more information or to request a FREE website assessment.