Francois Bourdoncle, a French researcher at the Paris School of Mining, has become the country’s latest high-tech darling, after selling his Internet search engine LiveTopics to AltaVista Internet Software Inc. The software automatically classifies sites that correspond to the request by category, linking them together and presenting them in table form, said AltaVista inventor Louis Monier at the announcement in Palo Alto, as reported in Les Echos. The product enables a user to eliminate certain categories of site, select new ones and reformulate the request in such a way as to obtain more precise results, said Monier, who works for AltaVista’s parent Digital Equipment Corp. Bourdoncle, a research fellow at the School of Mines and an information technology professor at Polytechnique, said it took six months to create the product. I developed LiveTopics alone, and with the sale, AltaVista has acquired the exclusive rights to its use and commercialization, Bourdoncle said at the announcement. France’s Minister of Post, Telecommunications & Space, Francois Fillon, issued a communique congratulating the school and Bourdoncle for the success. The inventor indicated that LiveTopics, which is now a free service on AltaVista, would not be limited to the Internet. We expect to develop LiveTopics for intranet use, which will provide companies with a simple, sophisticated request tool that can access all on-line data in the company, he said. DEC says it expects to recoup its investment via the increased traffic the tool should generate on the Net. Furthermore, AltaVista says it soon expects to balance its books and become an independent subsidiary that will launch an initial public offering. Bourdoncle showed himself clearly not of the same nationalistic bent as many in France when someone suggested he might be criticized for selling his technology to a US company. It’s better to have an agreement with the world’s number one company in the sector than it is to write a program without a future and without an outlet in France, he declared.