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In 1997, Larry Page, one of Google co-founders, wanted to sell the search engine to Excite for $1.6 million: $600k in cash, $700k in stock and $300k for Stanford. This was at the very early stages, Google was known as BackRub at the time, and the deal obviously didn’t happen, though the reason why varies depending on who you ask.
In an interview years after the failed negotiations, then CEO of Excite George Bell said the company was comfortable with spending that amount of money on Google, but instead couldn’t agree to Page’s insistence on having Excite’s technology completely replaced by Google’s.
Although Bell has refuted the claims, other takes on how that deal never happened say that Excite was intimidated by Google’s superiority and declined the purchase because its search results were “too good,” suggesting that it might ultimately cut user activity and consequently ad revenue as people spent less time on the site.
Excite was a very recognizable brand of the early web, it was already a public company in the late 1990s and according to some metrics, the sixth most visited website in 1997. Today the website is merely a shadow of its former self. The web portal got merged into Ask Jeeves and remains to be operated by media company IAC.