Language Multilingual

Launched September 1995
Closed 1996 Inktomi removed the search interface from the web and starts opting as a provider of search for others

Developer Brewer, Eric & Gauthier, Paul

Country of Origin US America

September 1995 - 1996 Inktomi

Topic Universal

Region No Limitation

Technical functionalities
Robot/Crawler based, algorithmic search
Pay Per Inclusion Search Engine

Used SeEn Inktomi

Robot: Slurp (originaly: Inktomi Slurp) (Source)

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

Inktomi started in September 1995, in early 1996 »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.« Source

»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.« Source

»Inktomi's software was incorporated in the widely used HotBot search engine, which displaced AltaVista as the leading web-crawler-based search engine, itself to be displaced later by Google. In a talk given to a UC Berkeley seminar on Search Engines in October 2005, Eric Brewer credited much of the AltaVista displacement to technical differences of scale. The company went on to develop Traffic Server, a proxy cache for web traffic and on-demand streaming media. Traffic Server found a limited marketplace due to several factors, but was deployed by several large service providers including AOL. One of the things that Traffic Server did was to transcode images down to a smaller size for AOL dialup users, leading many websites to provide special noncacheable pages with the phrase, "AOL Users Click Here" to navigate to these pages. Inktomi acquired many other companies, including C2B and Impulse Buy Networks, two companies that had more than 4 million merchandise products registered in 1998 as they provided millions of product offers daily across some 20,000 consumer-focused websites including Yahoo!, MSN, and AOL Shopping. Merchants paid Inktomi a percentage of sales and/or a cost per click for traffic sent to their websites, a model that later became known as pay per click and was perfected by Google and Overture Services, Inc. Inktomi stock peaked in March 2000 with a split-adjusted price of $241 a share. With the financial collapse of the service provider industry and overall burst of the dot-com bubble, Inktomi lost most of its customer base. In 2002, the Inktomi board restructured the organization, following a plan led by Keyur Patel to focus back on search and divest from non-core assets. This move led to the acquisition of Inktomi by Yahoo! for $1.63 a share (or $235 million) which completed on March 19, 2003. In a separate transaction, the Ultraseek Server product (renamed Inktomi Enterprise Search) was sold to competitor Verity, Inc. in late 2002. In 2006, the technology behind the Inktomi Proxy Server was acquired by Websense, which has modified it and included it their Websense Security Gateway solution. In 2009, Yahoo! asked to enter Traffic Server into incubation with the Apache Incubator, which was accepted in July. The original Inktomi Traffic Server source, with additional Yahoo! modifications, was donated to the open source community that same year. In April 2010, the Apache Traffic Server top-level project was officially created, marking the official acceptance of the new project.« Source

Danny Sullivan (2004): Search Engine Timeline - »10/20/97 - Microsoft announces partnership with Inktomi to create search engine.« ---------- »05/18/98 - Inktomi announced as Yahoo's new partner for results when a search does not match Yahoo's own listings.« ---------- »06/08/98 - announces that Inktomi has taken over providing the non-paid results at its service. These previously came from the World Wide Web Worm crawler that acquired in 1997.« ---------- »09/01/98 - Inktomi agrees to purchase C2B Technologies, which develops comparison shopping software, for a $90 million stock swap. Inktomi plans to use the acquired technology to create a shopping search service that it can offer to its partners.« ---------- »09/08/98 - Microsoft unveils its Inktomi-powered search service, MSN Internet Search.« ---------- »Jan. 1999 - Compaq announces that AltaVista will be spun-off into a separate company, the AltaVista Company and that the service is to work closely with Microsoft on several portal offerings. AltaVista is to use Microsoft's Hotmail service to power its free email offering. Microsoft is to use AltaVista as the primary search service powering MSN Search. It will replace Inktomi in this role.« ---------- »Jun. 1999 - Inktomi is named to take over from Excite in powering AOL NetFind. Inktomi announces a new product that creates Yahoo-like directories of web sites automatically.« ---------- »Aug. 1999 - AOL NetFind results change to being powered by Inktomi.« ---------- »Dec. 1999 - MSN Search shifts back to using Inktomi information for the "Web Pages" section of its results. MSN had dropped Inktomi earlier this year, after a major deal was cut with AltaVista.« ---------- Source


Inktomi: pronounced "ink to me" ( »Inktomi is derived from a Lakota Indian legend about a trickster spider character, known for his ability to defeat larger adversaries through wit and cunning. Another play on crawler technology (crawlers are often called "spiders").« Source

Critical points

Features & Functionality


References & further Publications

Wikipedia (EN):
Wikipedia (Others): n.a.

Other Sources

Robert Sanders (1995): Speedily Searching the Web URL:
Inktomi: A brief history of the Inktomi search engine URL:
Diego Basch (2012): A Relevant Tale: How Google Killed Inktomi URL:
Greg R. Notess (1999-2012): Inktomi Category Archive URL:
Fox et al. (1997): Cluster-Based Scalable Network Services URL:
Krazit (2002): Yahoo buys search firm Inktomi for $235M URL:
Greg R. Notess (2004): Review of HotBot (Inktomi) URL:
Owen Thomas (February 22, 1999): A Direct Hit on Inktomi? In: Red Herring Online URL:
Danny Sullivan (2004): Search Engine Timeline URL:
Wallace, David J. (2003): Inktomi's Category Machine URL:
Metamend: Inktomi Search Engine Optimization Strategy URL:
Wallace Ravven (2015): Power to the People URL:
Spiders Crawlers and Indexers! Inktomi URL:

Created: 2015-07-26