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AltaVista taps business market with search deal

The search engine says it is licensing its technology to the software maker to ease searches of business-to-business e-commerce databases.

Search engine company AltaVista today said it is licensing its technology to software maker Ariba to ease searches of business-to-business e-commerce databases.

Although no financial details were released, Ariba will pay AltaVista to integrate the technology in its business-to-business software, said Rajiv Parikh, director of marketing at AltaVista. The technology will allow buyers and sellers to more easily search large databases, supply catalogs and other listings Ariba uses in its marketplaces, AltaVista said.

"This is useful for those companies who want to customize searches with business rules for particular industries or verticals," said Parikh. "We've done well with the B2C (business-to-consumer) market. Now we want to make headway in B2B (business-to-business)."

Ariba competes against Commerce One in the business-to-business software market. The firm sells software to companies who want to build online marketplaces and exchanges to connect their suppliers, sales divisions and business partners.

The deal is the first for AltaVista's Business Solutions unit, which was launched in January. The new division sells AltaVista search software to e-commerce firms so customers and partners can query information about inventory and product availability, for example.

AltaVista traditionally licensed its technology to e-commerce portals like online retailer Amazon.com. Parikh said the new unit will sell a packaged product, priced starting at $5,000, specifically to business-to-business firms.

AltaVista, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is majority owned by Internet investment firm CMGI, which plans an initial public offering of AltaVista next month.