The Early Days

I'm told that in 1997 was started by a few folks at Idealab.  By the time I arrived, a brilliant team of developers laid the foundation that ultimately scaled to handle 85% of all the inquiries in the US within a few years.  Those days we were led by Jeffrey Brewer, co-founder and CEO, with input from Bill Gross the CEO and Co-founder of Idealab and a talented management team.  We ultimately decided to go public and that is when things really got exciting.

The GoTo Timeline

  • 1997-ish in prototype mode
  • June 1998 -'s Official Launch
  • June 1999 - (GOTO) goes public!
  • Oct 2001 - Renamed as Overture Services
  • Oct 2003 - Purchase by Yahoo!

My GoTo badge

My GoTo badge

Initially as part of Idealab, GoTo was able to grow quickly and eventually moved across the street taking up many floors in Old Town Pasadena before moving to Burbank as part of Yahoo.

Going Public

We had a great business.  Our searchers loved us, our advertisers loved us and our growth was incredible.  We went public with our IPO in June of 1999.  We didn't sleep a lot those days, and my boss set the record with only four hours of sleep the week of the roadshow as he and our CEO explained our "new" business to the largest investors in the world.  While many feel that going public is the end of a long journey, for us, it was just the start.

The Consumer Push

At the time we launched, other search engines were plastered with ads and links.  The homepage was clean and our approach was to provide an easy user interface.  Search Made Simple was our tagline.  The marketing team worked to introduce the brand to the world.  This ultimately became confusing when Disney launched the Go Network on with a similar logo.  Luckily for us the courts agreed and granted us a big settlement from Disney and was asked to remove their logo.

I am proud to say the man who led the effort against Disney is a co-founder in the new

The end of GoTo, the Start of Overture

Taking our proceeds from Disney, we closed a deal with America Online (AOL) to put our listings at the top of their search results page.  Within a few months, the other search powers Yahoo, MSN, Lycos, AltaVista, and many others, all became partners.  We decided to pivot away from the consumer business and not compete against our partners and retired the name of GoTo, and re-branded ourselves as Overture.

The post-GoTo story

Overture provided a much needed boost to the internet economy and helped lead the portals (Yahoo, AOL, etc.) to profitability.  In fact without GoTo / Overture I don't know what would have happened.  Yahoo really appreciated our business and purchased Overture in October 2003 for $1.6 billion dollars (which I personally think was a bargain).  Many of us stayed on with Yahoo, and as they partnered further with Microsoft, some moved to Redmond, WA.  To this day the friendships and relationships made at GoTo/Overture stand the test of time and I am so lucky to have been a part of it.

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