Early Yahoo! Acquisitions (the 1990s)

I wanted to learn more about the history of Yahoo!, and made a post about Yahoo!’s Acquisitions Since Overture a week ago. I promised that I would followup with an additional post covering the remaining purchases.

I guess you should be careful about undertaking an inquiry like this.

The more I uncover, the more I find to write about.

Yahoo!’s earliest days saw them entering into partnerships and joint ventures with a number of companies.

At some point, Yahoo! started buying some of the companies that it worked with instead of working with those companies. There are a number of different reasons why, and some interesting stories behind some of those.

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Google Improving Mobile Search

Making it easier to make entries on a mobile device

As smart phones, and web-connected PDAs become more and more common, it makes sense for search engines to consider how to make it easier for people to use those devices while searching the web.

Handheld and mobile devices can be difficult to enter queries into.

Google has come up with some ideas to make searching easier on a phone or PDA.

They involve a type of auto complete and spell checker that can predict what you might enter before you finish typing, or tapping, or speaking.

This type of predictive data entry gets its information from dictionaries that can be stored locally, or remotely. Those dictionaries can be built using information from a collection of email, or corporate documents, or from web searches.

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Advertising.com applies for patent on advertising

Trying to quickly understand how well an online advertising campaign is doing is important.

There are a lot of factors to look at, to make sure that it is working, and a lot of methods to use to test those ads.

A patent application from Advertising.com describes one method they are using:

Systems and methods of achieving optimal advertising
United States Patent Application 20050289005
Inventors: John B. Ferber, Scott Ferber, Mark Hrycay, and Robert Luenberger
Published December 29, 2005
Filed: May 18, 2005

Abstract:

A system and method for achieving optimal advertising is disclosed.

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People helping People

With my first post of the new year, I decided that I would point out a site that captured my imagination earlier this evening:

Favorville is an “social experiment in Good Will.”

I’m hoping that spirit of reaching out, and helping others when they need it will be something we see a lot of in 2006.

Happy New Year. I hope that it is a good one to you.

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Human Friendly Driving Directions From Google?

I need landmarks when I get driving directions. I get lost without them.

The last time I took a long trip by car, I used a couple of different online mapping programs to get me to where I was going. Or at least most of the way there. The directions worked fine the first 320 miles, until I had less than a couple of miles to go.

Then I drove around for 40 minutes, in the middle of Massachusetts, trying to find a hotel that I had made reservations at.

I wish that there was something better.

Yep, I didn’t ask directions. I should have. A couple of good landmarks would have helped.

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Yahoo! Bundles Communication

I hadn’t seen the Yahoo! Communication Center (now replaced by Yahoo Tutorials) before today. It looks like it does a nice job of introducing people to the many different free ways Yahoo! has for people to hold conversations. It’s sharp looking, and very well done.

I’m not sure how well it functions as a “communications center” but as a way of finding out how you can communicate on Yahoo!, it accomplishes that task well.

I noticed a link to it from Emil Yang’s Yahoo! 360 page (which unfortunately has gone away). Emil has had a number of other posts there highlighting some of the new things Yahoo! has come out with recently. Thanks, Emil.

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A Goto.com Time Capsule: Looking at a Four Year Old Vision of Paid Search

Back before there was Yahoo! Search Marketing, and prior to Overture, there was Goto.com. Goto.com changed its name to Overture in September of 2001, and was purchased by Yahoo! a little over two years later for the small sum of $ 1.6 billion.

goto logo

John Battelle’s book, The Search paints an interesting picture of what this search engine was like, and he posted an excerpt on his site this summer, to give you a glimpse: The Sugar Daddy: It’s All About Arbitrage.

A couple of posts ago, I noted that I was surprised by seeing Stephen Jobs name listed as an inventor of one of the patent applications I looked at. I was even more startled to see Goto.com listed as the assignee in another patent application this morning. This one was originally filed back before the October 2001 name change, and wasn’t published for the public to get a gander at until today.

In many ways, coming across it was a little like unearthing a time capsule. You have to look in the internet archive to get a first hand taste of what it was like, and be reminded that it has an even longer history under an older name. In How We Got To GoTo, we are told that the site’s original name was the World Wide Web Worm, and before it was acquired, it was one of the first searchable sites that automatically indexed the web with its own web crawler.

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Correction of Spelling Errors in Non-Roman Languages in Search Queries

The following patent application was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office earlier today:

Systems and methods for spell correction of non-roman characters and words

Abstract:

Systems and methods to process and correct spelling errors for non-Roman based words such as in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages using a rule-based classifier and a hidden Markov model are disclosed.

The method generally includes converting an input entry in a first language such as Chinese to at least one intermediate entry in an intermediate representation, such as pinyin, different from the first language, converting the intermediate entry to at least one possible alternative spelling or form of the input in the first language, and determining that the input entry is either a correct or questionable input entry when a match between the input entry and all possible alternative spellings to the input entry is or is not located, respectively.

The questionable input entry may be classified using, for example, a transformation rule based classifier based on transformation rules generated by a transformation rules generator.

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Getting Information about Search and SEO Directly from the Search Engines