AltaVista Aims to Speed Web Searches

PALO ALTO, CALIF. (05/03/2000) - Looking to broaden its reach among consumers, AltaVista Co. launched a new search engine today designed to offer a faster, more streamlined way to search for Web pages.

Called Raging Search, the site does away with features like directories, discussion groups and shopping information, and answers searches by providing only a list of the most relevant Web sites, said Rod Schrock, AltaVista's chief executive officer and president, at a press conference at the company's headquarters here today.

AltaVista claims the new site is 20 percent faster than its main AltaVista search portal, in part because Raging Search features no banner advertisements which can take more time to download.

The site is aimed at experienced "search enthusiasts" and is designed to complement the company's primary, eponymous search site, Schrock said. Raging Search is up and running today, at http://www.raging.com/.

AltaVista also announced today that it has revamped the search index behind its search engine with the goal of eliminating links to dead and duplicate pages and returning more relevant results to users.

The announcements come as AltaVista prepares for its much anticipated IPO (initial public offering) which the company has been delaying while it waits for the high-tech stock market to recover, Schrock said.

"We're waiting for the market to reflect confidence back on the Internet economy... That's our only precondition to going public," Schrock said.

The changes at AltaVista are designed to attract more users to the company's Web services and to help it compete more effectively against a growing list of rivals.

"Our strategy is to become the premier Web-wide knowledge resource on the Internet," Schrock said.

The main AltaVista search engine, at http://www.altavista.com/, competes primarily against Yahoo Inc. and Lycos Inc., Schrock said. Raging Search is positioned more against competitors such as Northern Light Inc. and Google Inc., he added.

Google, a relative newcomer to the field, offers a simplified search tool much like Raging Search, and has been garnering interest particularly among more experienced Web surfers.

AltaVista claims to have a more international audience than its rivals. About 55 percent of visitors to AltaVista's site today live outside of North America, compared with about 15 percent each for Lycos and Excite Inc., and about 30 percent for Yahoo, Schrock said, citing a published figure from Lycos and estimates from market analyst firm Alexa Research Inc.

Raging Search aims to continue that international theme. The site can be customized so that users can search the Web in up to 25 languages, including double-byte languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean, Schrock said.

Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, AltaVista is a majority-owned operating company of CMGI Inc. and can be contacted at +1-650-617-3400, and on the Web at http://www.altavista.com/.

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