Have you ever wondered how many questions are asked of Google each day? Let’s take a quick moment on ‘ask’ day to honor our heroes of search, superlative-style.
Where are they now? Try not to get too nostalgic.
Name: Ask Jeeves
Superlative: Most likely to be used by your mother.
Where are they now? Jeeves has retired to go live with his like-dressed penguins in Antarctica. Ask has moved on without him and has struggled after the divorce. There’s a new superlative. “I was wondering what happened to Ask Jeeves, so I Googled it.” In 2005 they were bought by media conglomerate IAC – making Jeeves half-cousins with the USA and Sifi channels, Expedia, Trip Advisor, CollegeHumor, and the Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Reference com spaces.
Where are they now? Still in Beijing. Duh.
Superlative: Most likely to be used when you don’t update your browser’s default search.
Where are they now? Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha.
Superlative: Most likely to be confused with any other engine with a dog as the mascot.
Where are they now? People still use it. No, I swear. I saw it on the internet.
Superlative: Most likely to not be Google.
Where are they now? DuckDuckGo is now the default search of the Chromium browser in Raspbian. We love anything related to Raspberry Pi.
Superlative: The early bird gets…to go to bed before the other birds.
Where are they now? Excite was actually bought out by Ask Jeeves in 2004. To this day, they’re an example that the concept of “First to Market” doesn’t necessarily apply to the internet.
Superlative: Most likely to keep it simple.
Where are they now? Let’s just say Google wasn’t the first to the market, but their elegant “nothing but a bar” design and constantly updated algorythms won out in the end. Obviously it’s name is now synonimous with the idea of an internet search. Google is also going through a tiny midlife crisis. They’ll still answer all of your questions, but may try to mix in something ‘cool’ or ‘edgy’ like a video (YouTube), phone (Pixel), personal assistant (Google Home), or VR device (Daydream). Get your Beyonce fixes here.
Superlative: Most likely to be used only by Wired Magazine subscribers.
Where are they now? No, it’s true. HotBot was founded by Wired Magazine. Aquired by Lycos in 1998, the website went through a couple of identity crises, begoming an aggregator of search engines in 2002, an entirely different list of search engines in 2001, then became a front for a Lycos search in 2012.
Superlative: Most likely to fetch, but never bring the ball back.
Where are they now? Lycos actually set a record in 1996 as the fastest company to go from inception to IPO before they went on a buying spree of websites like Matchmaker. They have been playing ownership pingpong ever since. Don’t worry, they’re out of the dating game.
Superlative: The fastest search engine on dialup.
Where are they now? NorthernLight was named after the famous clipper which held the voyage record from San Francisco to boston for almost 150 years. They functioned primarily as a search engine until 2002, when their search division was discontinued in favor of an enterprise intranet search product called SinglePoint.
Superlative: First company to make ‘indexing’ sexy.
Where are they now? Let’s be very clear. The founder is University of Washington alumni. Go dawgs! In a super fun search engine love triangle, WebCrawler was bought by Excite in 1997, which was owned by Ask Jeeves and all now partner with Dictionary, Thesauraus, and Reference com sites.
Superlative: Last alphabetically, but third in our hearts.
Where are they now? There was a period of time where Yahoo! was considered a part of the Big 3 of search engines. Now they’re an aggregate site of content and borrows searches from Bing. It turns out the company is also a perpetual leaky faucet of private user data and CEOs. In the words of Adele, “Yahoo? Can you hear me?”