Ben & David dive deep into the early days of internet search, with the help of the best in the internet history business: Brian McCullough from the Internet History Podcast! We are huge fans of IHP at Acquired, so this was a real treat to collaborate with Brian and the great work he does over there. In this episode we cover the story of how a small incubator in Southern California spawned perhaps the greatest tech business model of all-time, Yahoo!’s fumbling of that golden opportunity, and Google’s recovery of that fumble to cross into the end zone of tech history behind the biggest moat ever constructed on the internet.
Topics covered include:
- Overture’s origins as part of the Idealab incubator run by famed early internet entrepreneur Bill Gross
- Invention of the paid search business model… initially by returning ADS ONLY in response to search queries
- The eventual marrying of Overture’s paid search (ads) with organic search results via syndication on other properties like Yahoo!
- Revenue from Overture’s ad partnership saving Yahoo!’s business after the internet bubble burst
- Yahoo!’s eventual acquisition of Overture for $1.4B in 2003
- But… the really interesting story here: Overture’s 'inspiration' of Google’s business model and the creation of "the greatest advertising machine in the history of the world"
- The original (pre-Overture) Google business model: selling a box!
- Google’s differentiation vs Overture: focusing on the long tail, ad quality scores, and an advertiser-friendly auction structure
- Google’s first major search syndication victory over Overture: AOL
- Yahoo!’s failed attempt to buy Google for $3B in 2002, leading it to settle for acquiring Overture instead the following year
- “Project Panama” at Yahoo!, and its impact on the tech and internet history
- Overture's (and later Yahoo!’s) lawsuit against Google for stealing the paid search business model— "the O.G. version of Snapchat and Instagram”
- Paul Graham’s take on "What Happened to Yahoo?”
- Perhaps the most important technology to come out of this whole episode: Hadoop
- The power of incentive alignment in marketplaces— and creating the widest and deepest moats on the internet
The Carve Out: