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Inktomi searches Latin universe

Inktomi is expected to announce an alliance with Universo Online, Brazil's leading online content provider, to launch a commercial search engine for the South American Net market.

Inktomi is expected to announce an alliance Monday with Universo Online (UOL), Brazil's leading online content provider, to launch a commercial search engine for the South American Net market, company sources said today.

The search engine, dubbed Radar, has search functions tailored to Brazilian and South American users. They will get access to more than 54 million regional and global Web documents. All graphics and user interfaces are served from UOL servers in Brazil. Inktomi claims it is the largest and most powerful search engine for the market.

Company executives wouldn't comment further pending Monday's announcement.

The deal highlights the growth opportunities for U.S. technology companies in Latin America. Spending in Latin America on computers and other information technology will grow at 18.2 percent a year through 2000, higher than the 10.9 percent annual increases that are expected worldwide, according to a recent study by International Data Corporation.

According to Dataquest, the Latin American personal computer market grew nearly 23 percent in the first quarter of this year, with Brazil leading all countries in the region in PC shipments.

In May, Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates held a conference in Miami with Latin American leaders, underscoring the growing importance of the region to U.S. technology companies.

For Inktomi, the deal helps round out its strategy of launching customized search engines with partners throughout the world. The others include HotBot with Wired Digital in the United States; Anzwers with OzEmail in Australia; and Goo with NTT in Japan.

Software start-up Inktomi was founded by computer scientists from the University of California at Berkeley and funded by a group of individual investors. In April, it received a $8 million cash infusion from Oak Investment Partners, its first venture capital backing.

The company recently announced a technology advisory board, which includes engineers from Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, and UC Berkeley.