Google is now one of the world’s biggest and most powerful companies.
There’s a reason why no-one says “Yahoo it” or “Bing it” – it’s because Google is the go-to search engine and a used for millions of people.
There are people who use Google hundreds of times a day, which is why you’d think it would be a shrewd business move for companies to have invested in it when it was in its infancy.
In 1999, Google was growing fast as one of the major search engines, with the internet was becoming increasingly vital at the turn of the century.
During that time, another search engine had a chance to make a major investment that would’ve changed its fortunes.
That company was called Excite.com.
At the time, Excite was the number two search engine behind Yahoo.
Speaking on the Internet History Podcast, former Excite CEO George Bell, revealed why he decided not to go for the deal.
The company had the chance to buy a $750,000 stake in Google, but bargaining proved very difficult.
Mr Bell said Google co-founder Larry Page had one condition that led to a stand-off.
He said: “Ultimately, Larry said, ‘Look, I like the engineers at Excite’.
“I really like the company. I get that you don’t see a lot of difference.”
“And, I think we struck a price. I believe that the price was $750,000 in cash, and something like one percent of Excite.
“The economics of that were really OK to us.
“The thing that Larry insisted on that we all do recall, is that Larry said, “If we come to work for Excite, you need to rip out all the Excite technology and replace it with Google’s search.”
“And, ultimately, that’s, in my recollection, where the deal fell apart.
“Because, we had hundreds of engineers at that point, and culturally, we really were driven by technology.
“And I didn’t think we could survive… or the differentiation in search results were clearly not dramatic enough to justify the cultural risk that Larry would insist on.
“So, ultimately, we passed.”
Excite is still going, operating on a small scale in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria.