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Type of site
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MetaCrawler was a metasearch engine that blended the top web search results from Google, Yahoo!, Bing (formerly Live Search), Ask.com, About.com, MIVA, LookSmart and other popular search engines. MetaCrawler also provided users the option to search for images, video, news, yellow pages and white pages. MetaCrawler hit its stride in the late 90's when the verb "metacrawled" was used by talk show host Conan O'Brien on TRL. It used to provide the option to search for audio. MetaCrawler is a registered trademark of InfoSpace, Inc.
Metacrawler.com now redirects to http://msxml.excite.com/.
MetaCrawler was originally developed in 1994 at the University of Washington by then graduate student Erik Selberg and Professor Oren Etzioni as Selberg's Ph.D. qualifying exam project. Originally, it was created in order to provide a reliable abstraction layer to early Web search engines such as WebCrawler, Lycos, and InfoSeek in order to study semantic structure on the Web. However, it became clear that it was a useful service in its own right, and had a number of research challenges.
By early 1995, MetaCrawler was running on four DEC AlphaStations and handling several hundred thousand queries per day. This was starting to create significant bandwidth load at UW, as well as appear on the radar of the search engines MetaCrawler was using. It became clear that MetaCrawler needed to have some kind of business model to pay for the queries it was forwarding to the primary search engines.
In the summer of 1995, NetBot, Inc. was founded to commercialize MetaCrawler and three other UW technologies: Ahoy! The HomePage Finder, Occam, and ShopBot. Ahoy! and Occam never actually left UW. Unable to determine a reasonable business model, MetaCrawler was licensed to another Internet startup, Go2Net. NetBot then combined the core of MetaCrawler with ShopBot to create a meta-shopping site, Jango. NetBot was then purchased by Excite, where Jango became part of the Excite Network Shopping Channel. Both Selberg and Etzioni returned to UW until 1999, when they joined Go2Net for a year, leaving just prior to Go2Net's acquisition by InfoSpace, Inc. in 2000. InfoSpace now owns and operates the metasearch engines Dogpile and WebCrawler.
Go2net went public on the Nasdaq in 1998 with its primary asset being MetaCrawler.com. MetaCrawler.com and Go2net were acquired by InfoSpace (now Blucora) in 1999 for $4.2 billion. As of March 2015, www.metacrawler.com is now being redirected to http://msxml.excite.com/.
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