If the rumored sale of Digital Equipment Corp’s Alpha business to Intel Corp ever comes to pass, the bits that are still left of DEC assume more and more significance if the company is to have a viable future as a product company, rather than merely a collection of Windows NT engineers. One of smallest, but fastest growing units is its AltaVista Internet Software Ltd, whose initial public offering was abandoned in June resulting in the resignation of its chief executive last month. But the reintegration has been such that AltaVista doesn’t really exist inside the company as a unit any more, according to head of electronic marketing Freddy Mini, who was previously worldwide marketing manager for AltaVista. Sources tell us that since the start of this year, AltaVista has recorded advertising revenues on its website of around $23m, which is some going in such a short space of time. Such a performance should be looked at up against the likes of Excite Inc and Yahoo! Inc, which have always carried advertising. The former had revenues of $17.0m for the first six month of this year and the latter recorded revenues of $23.0m for the same period – the same as AltaVista Last we heard the AltaVista unit was on track to be profitable by the end of this year, but that’s impossible to calculate now, says Mini. He said the services side of the business – the search engine and advertising on it has caught up with the product side, which comprises selling the mail server directory server as well as the search engine server itself. Yahoo! is the poster boy among search engine companies on Nasdaq with a current market capitalization of some $1.5bn. Maybe DEC could have basked in the reflective glory of having its own little Yahoo! in its camp. But that’s something we shall never know.
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