KU spinoff sold to Intelliseek
From Lawrence Journal World
By Richard Brack
ProFusion, the pioneering Internet search engine developed at Kansas University, has been purchased by Intelliseek Inc.
The deal, for undisclosed terms, completes a successful spinoff of university-developed technology into the private sector.
"It's absolutely a success story," said Tim Johnson, executive director at KU's Information and Telecommunication Technology Center, which supported ProFusion Inc.'s development.
Under the cash and stock deal with Cincinnati-based Intelliseek, ProFusion's office in Ann Arbor, Mich., will be shut down, said Susan Gauch, chief technical officer and co-founder of ProFusion.
"The Kansas office will stay open for the foreseeable future as sort of a research wing," she said. There are six employees at ProFusion's Lawrence office, 1617 St. Andrews Drive.
To privately held Intelliseek, ProFusion provides a much-needed Web search portal and a loyal audience of users. It claims 3 million users and 600,000 unique visitors each month. But the search system also was important.
"They didn't just want the end users, but also the technology," Gauch said. "They wanted the things that differentiate them in the marketplace."
ProFusion.com, which went online in 1995, was the last of the original metasearch engines to find a buyer, Gauch said. Metasearch provides users with a group of Web search engines -- such as Yahoo!, HotBot and AltaVista -- simultaneously.
MetaCrawler, developed at the University of Washington about the same time ProFusion was being developed at KU, was purchased in 1997 by Go2Net for $100,000. Seattle-based Go2Net had to pay considerably more -- $55 million -- last August when it acquired Dogpile, another metasearch engine.
SavvySearch, developed at Colorado State University, was sold in October to Cnet Inc. for $22 million in cash and stock.
Referring to the recent sales, Mahendra Vora, president and chief executive officer of Intelliseek, said, "I wouldn't pay more than that. I think we got a very good deal" for ProFusion.
No price was disclosed earlier this year when KU's ITTC transferred ProFusion technologies to ProFusion Inc. At the time, co-founder Greg Merriman described the company's payment to ITTC as substantial -- "in six figures."
Johnson, of ITTC, declined to comment on terms of that deal or the latest one.
ITTC is a nonprofit regional center for developing information and telecommunications technologies.
"The whole concept is that there's a lot of great knowledge and technology developed at the universities," Johnson said. "One of the goals is trying to transition that out to industry so that it's utilized."
Merriman said that would happen with ProFusion.
"Intelliseek is the leader on the client side and ProFusion has the best technology on the server side," he said. "By offering both client and server solutions ... the large and growing Internet search market will be better served."
For more information, contact ITTC.