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Infoseek (also known as the "big yellow"[1]) was a popular internet search engine founded in 1994 by Steve Kirsch.[2]

Type of site
Web search engine
OwnerDisney Interactive
(The Walt Disney Company) (redirects to, (Infoseek Japan)
LaunchedJanuary 1994; 25 years ago (1994-01)
Current statusClosed as of 1999

Infoseek was originally operated by the Infoseek Corporation, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.[3] Infoseek was bought by The Walt Disney Company in 1999,[4] and the technology was merged with that of the Disney-acquired Starwave to form the network.[5]


Infoseek launched in January 1994 as a pay-for-use service.[1] The service was dropped in August 1994 and Infoseek was relaunched as Infoseek search in February 1995.[1]

In 1995, Infoseek struck a deal with Netscape to become the default search engine on Netscape Navigator.[1]

On June 11, 1996, Infoseek's initial public offering started trading on Nasdaq (under the name SEEK) at $12 per share.[6]

By September 1997, Infoseek had 7.3 million visitors per month.[7] It was the 7th most visited website that year (5th in 1996) and 10th in 1998.[8] Infoseek acquired the WebChat Broadcasting System in April 1998.[9]

In 1998, Disney purchased a 43% stake of Infoseek, and incorporated the site into its various media businesses. Around the same time, Disney acquired the Starwave Corporation, which included and[1] In 1999, Disney acquired the remaining Infoseek stock it didn't own. Disney bundled its Starwave properties and Infoseek and formed the portal.[4]

Infoseek was among the first search engines to sell advertising on a CPM, Cost Per Thousand Impressions, basis.[1] In 1997, the first Cost Per Click programs, as well as the precursor to pop-ups called daughter windows, was sold by east coast sales executive Jeff Williams to Grey Advertising for a Procter & Gamble Pampers campaign.[citation needed]

In 1998, Infoseek was the first internet company to develop and launch behavioral targeting via its UltraMatch targeting algorithms.[citation needed] In 1999, Infoseek engineer Li Yanhong moved to Beijing, China and co-founded the search engine Baidu.[1] In February 2001, Disney decided to cancel the service and lay off all staff. Also in 2001, Bernt Wahl, Andy Bensky and 15 software engineers, all Infoseek employees, led a management buyout attempt from Disney but were ultimately rebuffed.[10]


Infoseek's Ultraseek Server software technology, an enterprise search engine product, was sold in 2000 to Inktomi.[1] Under Inktomi, Ultraseek Server was renamed "Inktomi Enterprise Search". In December 2002 (prior to the Yahoo! acquisition of Inktomi), the Ultraseek product suite was sold to a competitor Verity Inc, who re-established the Ultraseek brand name and continued development of the product.

Rakuten agreed in November 2000 to acquire Infoseek Japan for $81 million.[11]

In December 2005, Verity was acquired by Autonomy PLC. Under Autonomy, Ultraseek ceased to be a stand-alone product and became a modular component under the IDOL platform. It continued to be developed and marketed as Autonomy's entry-level keyword-based site search offering until after Autonomy was acquired by Hewlett-Packard (HP) in October 2011.

Domain nameEdit

The Japanese Infoseek website, as of 2019

The "" domain name redirects to "" and the Infoseek brand name is no longer used in North America,[1] however, the Australian domain and the Japanese domain still operate with the Infoseek name.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Short History of Early Search Engines – The History of SEO". Retrieved 2019-02-03.
  2. ^ "Kirsch Foundation About the Founders". Retrieved 2018-03-11.
  3. ^ "Contacting Infoseek." Infoseek. July 2, 1997. Retrieved on January 20, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Disney absorbs Infoseek - Jul. 12, 1999". Retrieved 2018-03-11.
  5. ^ "Mike Slade on 80s Microsoft, NeXT, Starwave and Steve Jobs' Return to Apple". Internet History Podcast. Retrieved 2018-03-11.
  6. ^ "Infoseek hits Wall Street". CNET.
  7. ^ "Infoseek - a history (from WebSerch)". 2009-05-01. Archived from the original on May 1, 2009. Retrieved 2018-03-11.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Reuters (1998-04-15). "Infoseek to Buy WebChat Broadcasting". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-11-28.
  10. ^ "Short History of Early Search Engines – The History of SEO". Retrieved 2018-03-11.
  11. ^ Interactive, Nikkei Net. "Rakuten Agrees to Acquire Infoseek Japan for $81 Million". WSJ.

External linksEdit