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Alta Vista - Failure Museum

AltaVista launched in 1995, which was two years before Google.  Google focused solely on search, while AltaVista built a graphic-rich portal with live news & sports, shopping, and search. AltaVista’s search results pages were filled with irrelevant display ads as they were focused too much on revenue. Meanwhile, Google didn’t need to make money immediately allowing Google AdWords to focus on paid ads that enhanced page relevancy.  By the time AltaVista refocused on search and wound down its portal features, Google was ahead in search and extended their lead with deep investment in advanced search technology, more relevant advertising, and continuous innovation. The search results and simplicity of Google were so much better that users noticed it right away, and switching costs were zero.

Sean Jacobsohn

Sean Jacobsohn

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