Search is King

I have seen it all…at least when it comes to Internet history.

Many of you know that I started the Internet World magazine back in the early 1990s and also created the trade show by the same name.

Many Internet concepts have come and gone in the ensuing years. Terms and concepts have gotten hot and then burned out. Remember “PUSH”?

A company called Pointcast was all the rage in 1996 and 1997 with “push” technology. It was rumored that the founders turned down over $400 million cash for the company in 1997 — quite a mistake seeing the business essentially changed hands at only a few million dollars a year or so ago.

I remember how Yahoo! took the Internet world by storm. Then all search engines were hot. Alta Vista, launched by Digital Equipment in the mid-1990s, was for a time the fastest and most powerful search engine. New players came along such as Inktomi and then there were other hotties such as Autonomy and the like.

Looking back, it is interesting to note that the search field has become the de-facto killer application of the Internet. For a time, I thought that e-mail might be classified similarly, but, with the flow of ad dollars to paid search, it appears that search is in fact the killer application at this writing.

Another historical tidbit: while IdeaLab! might have had a lot of high-profile busts, it’s important to remember that this shop did created GoTo, which is now known as Overture — a company that Yahoo! considers valuable.

Jupiter Research (a division of Jupitermedia, which is the parent of this Web site) has recently published analysis about the future of paid search — the conclusions are hugely bullish. Paid search is moving in on annual revenues of $2 billion and growing prodigiously.

My old friend Russ Horowitz of Go2Net fame (who is actually quite young not to mention rich) has recently moved into the paid search field by acquiring A-HA. Russ is one smart cookie and has a nose for making money. If Russ invested in a paid search company, then I know this field has a bright future.

Another incredible indicator is our own series of Search Engine Strategies (SES) shows. We run six annually worldwide with the next one taking place at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose this week. These shows are growing at a rapid rate. This is even more amazing because we all know that the previous three years has been very unkind to the trade show industry. The SES show has nearly 6000 feet of exhibit space and will have paid attendance of well over 600. Just a year ago, the respective numbers would have been 50 percent lower. The SES show in London this past June more than doubled from the previous year’s event. We are now expanding the franchise to Toronto and other cities in North America and around the world.

While PUSH technology and other terms came and went, I doubt that paid search will be anything less than the great killer application in Internet history.

Congratulations to those that saw the light.

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