The search engine that once formed the crux of Digital's Internet strategy, AltaVista, is to become a company in its own right.
Compaq, which inherited AltaVista when it purchased Digital for $9 billion (#5.45 billion), announced last week that it planned to float the search engine subsidiary, amid claims that it would become a centre for Internet commerce.
"We want to make AltaVista the leading destination site for Ecommerce," claimed new AltaVista CEO Rod Schrock.
Compaq also purchased Shopping.Com to increase the portal capability of the site. More acquisitions are expected to increase the credibility of the site, which is still regarded by many as little more than a search engine. Money will be channelled into acquisitions from the initial public offering and a large cash injection from parent Compaq over the first year.
So substantial will the investment in growth be that the company is not expected to return a profit within the first two years.
Compaq plans to make My AltaVista a personalised site, not unlike Netscape's NetCenter, to a wider audience than purchasers of Compaq Presario Internet PCs and plans to make its Internet keyboard available soon to corporate customers.
Also announced was a technology exchange with Microsoft. Compaq will create an AltaVista version of the Hotmail Email service and Microsoft will make AltaVista the default search engine for the Microsoft Network.
In adopting AltaVista, Microsoft dumped its deal with rival search technology firm Inktomi.
The date has not been set for the initial public offering.
- More Internet news, p32.
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