Before I started using Google as my main search engine, I used Yahoo!. And before that, it was Lycos. I think the fact it used a dog as a mascot swayed me before Yahoo!’s popularity did. But then it died. Or so I thought.
For anyone who doesn’t remember or know what Lycos is, it’s a search engine and web portal that started in 1994. Like many search engines from the 90s, it began life as a research project at Carnegie Mellon University before spinning out into the commercial realm thanks to $2m of VC cash money. By 1999, it became the most visited online destination in the world.
But it didn’t regain its position after the dot-com bubble burst and abandoned its search crawler in 2001. By 2004, Lycos was sold to a South Korean company called Daum Communications Corporation, now Kakao, for $95.4 million, a fraction of a fraction of its former owner’s initial $12.5bn investment.
Fast forward to 2020 and Lycos is still online and still a search engine. Kakao still owns it, its revenue was $250 million in 2009, as of 2017, it employed 450 people, and its Alexa ranking was 19,153 as of today.
Here are some of the sites Lycos owned at its peak:
- Gamesville, a multi-player gaming site
- GetRelevant.com, an online advertising site
- Hotbot, a search engine (now a VPN)
- Lycos Radio, a free Internet radio show service
- Matchmaker.com, a dating site
- Quote.com and RagingBull.com, finance sites
- Webmonkey, web-building help and tutorials
- Wired.com, Wired magazine online
It still owns the following:
- Angelfire, a web host, blogging and web publishing tool
- Tripod, same as Angelfire
- Lycos Domains, a domain name provider
- Lycos Mail, an email provider
- Lycos Weather, a weather site
I don’t know whether I’d call Lycos’s survival an underdog story (genuinely no pun intended, I swear) but I like the spirit of this quote from the company’s about page:
This has been Lycos’ key to survival , diversification. The integration of the various products, services and brands provided to Lycos users for the last 25 years
If by diversification, they mean “selling all their other properties and hanging onto the main ones they had that not as many people use”, then go, Lycos! I’m very tempted to set up a Lycos email address for nostalgic purposes. I doubt I’ll use its search engine though.
Here’s a Lycos commercial from the good old days, featuring Penn & Teller.