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Child-Proof Search Engine Sold to U.S. Company

The world's first child-proof Internet search engine, SearchHound, was sold to US e-commerce company TVIShop.com for AUS$6 million (US$3.96 million).

SearchHound's developer, Adelaide-based WebGenie Software, has also retained intellectual property rights to the technology as part of the sale.

WebGenie's chief executive officer Siva Prasad said that the sale would enable the company to continue its core focus of developing e-commerce products. He added that further business involving SearchHound would remain an option.

"An independent assessment conservatively valued SearchHound at AUS$16.5 million (US$10.9 million), but we decided to sell at a lower price in return for retaining the intellectual property rights," Prasad said.

The search engine, which was launched 18 months ago, was developed by WebGenie in a joint venture with Los Angeles-based Aesop Marketing Corp., which handled international marketing of the product.

SearchHound posts a warning before revealing the results of a search for adult-related terms, and users can block the display completely through password access.

Search engine developers select the pages for inclusion in its database and index them based on relevant keywords. The system also allows access to 24 other search engines.

Sites that are featured in SearchHound can 'bid' for URLs, so that their properties are given priorities in search results.

Australian Internet company iseek produced a search engine last November that similarly filtered out search results on sites that contained content relating to pornography, violence, drugs and discrimination. This filter could also be adjusted by password access, and was available for free download from iseek's Web site (see report, November 17, 1999).

According to Prasad, SearchHound has been receiving more than four million page impressions a month.