In light of Friday's announcement that Microsoft has made a bid to buy Yahoo, it's a good opportunity to take a look at some of the pioneering tech companies that made the Web what it is today. Some of them continue to innovate and turn a profit, while others have either died off or been consumed by larger companies.
About.com. After being launched in 1997, Web guide service About.com was picked up by The New York Times company in 2005 for nearly $700 million. About's still kicking, and serving up a large variety of content, both written and video.
AltaVista was one of the first big search engines for the Web. After launching in late 1995, the service gained popularity before parent company Digital Equipment Corporation was sold to Compaq in 1998. It then changed hands three more times to fall under Yahoo's control, who still uses its technology in its Web search.
Amazon.com. Founder Jeff Bezos' 1995 e-marketplace baby survived the dot-com bust and quickly began to turn a profit selling a huge array of products. It's snatched up over a dozen other high-profile sites including the Internet Movie Database, Alexa Internet, and on Thursday Audible.com.
AOL started out as a video games-by-telephone modem service before nearly going under in the early 1980s. It turned into an ISP beginning in the 1990s, and continued to grow massively until competition made the company change its focus to content. It later merged with Time Warner in 2001. The company continues to be known for its instant-messaging service, portal news site, and as an Internet service provider.
Ask Jeeves has been around since 1996 and was formerly known for its cartoon mascot of a smarmy concierge-type who would answer search queries. Jeeves was nixed 10 years later when the company re-branded as Ask.com. Ask continues to compete in the search world, but trails behind the popularity of larger search behemoths like Google and Yahoo.
Buy.com was founded in 1997, and like Amazon.com it began with relatively few types of items for sale before expanding to cover nearly every product in every category. The company went public in 2000, but stock values tanked. Company founder Scott Blum bought back control of Buy.com and took it private, and it continues to sell goods online.… Read more