The Story of Search: How Google beat Overture and Yahoo by backing the long tail

Geoffrey Precourt
WARC Online


Gary Flake, Microsoft technical fellow and director of Microsoft Live Labs, first became renowned for failure.

In 2003, he joined Overture as chief science officer. At the time, as he reminded an audience at the 2009 Advertising Research Foundation's 2009 Annual "Re:think" conference, the search-engine business largely was a duopoly. In fact, a year later, Overture had a 55-percent market share, Google 35 percent, and a variety of other providers shared the remaining 10-percent.

Five years on, Flake said, "the pie had grown by a factor of four. And it had changed from a duopoly to a monopoly." In 2008, Google's market share was 80 percent; Yahoo, which had acquired Overture in 2003, had 15 percent and Microsoft rounded out the selection with five percent.