Bambi Francisco at CBS MarketWatch put together an excellent historical timeline of search engines going for the gold in the search commerce field.
1996: Search goes public
(all IPOs are split-adjusted prices. Source: Dealogic)
Jan. 1996: Google founders collaborate on search engine called BackRub
April 1, 1996: Lycos goes public at $4 a share
April 4, 1996: Excite goes public at $8.50 a share
April 11, 1996: Yahoo prices at $1.83.
1998 and 1999: New batch of search engines go public and Google is born
1998: Google opens its doors (answers 10,000 search queries Oct. 7, 1998)
June 1998: Inktomi goes public at $4.15 (market cap at IPO was $370 million)
December 1998: InfoSpace (INSP) goes public at $15
May 1999: Excite merges with At Home for $6.5 billion
June 1999: GoTo.com goes public at $15. Company changes name eventually to Overture Services.
June 1999: Ask Jeeves (ASKJ) goes public at $14
August 1999: LookSmart (LOOK) goes public at $12
August 1999: CMGI buys 83 percent of Alta Vista for $2.3 billion in stock, plus bonds
2000 and 2001: More consolidation and bankruptcy
Oct. 30, 2000: Terra Networks (TRLY) buys Lycos for $46.40 per share, or $5.1 billion.
Sept. 28, 2001: ExciteAtHome goes bankrupt. See story.
2002: Back to search roots
Nov. 13, 2002: Alta Vista relaunches its search site.
December 2002: Yahoo says it’ll buy Inktomi for $233 million in cash.
2003: Google accelerates position and portal expansion; Microsoft launches Web crawler; Search gets deeper
March 2003: Google surpasses Yahoo in searches with 1.1 million searches. (source: comScore)
March 4, 2003: Ask Jeeves says it’s buying Interactive Search Holdings for $343 million. See full story.
March 11, 2003: Yahoo’s maps meet Yellow Pages See Yahoo local
March 29, 2003: Google’s Froogle launched See Google’s Froogle.
April 7, 2003: Yahoo revamps its search functionalities. See Yahoo returns to search roots.
April 21, 2003: Ask Jeeves unveils its new look. See Ask Jeeves’ search gets smarter.
April 28, 2003: Overture completes purchase of Alta Vista for $106 million stock and cash
June 19, 2003: Microsoft tests its own Web crawler. See full story.
July 1, 2003: MSN to recast search to make algorithmic searches more prominent. See MSN to recast search.
Oct. 7, 2003: Yahoo completes purchase of Overture for $2.2 bln in stock and cash.
2004: Google’s long awaited IPO
April 29, 2004: Google announces it’ll try to raise $2.7 billion through an IPO, offering shares in a Dutch auction. See full story.