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Lycos, Dell invest in Fast search engine

The portal and the PC maker will acquire up to 15 percent of Internet search technology firm Fast Search & Transfer.

Web portal Lycos said today that it will acquire up to 15 percent of Internet search technology firm Fast Search & Transfer.

As part of the deal, Round Rock, Texas-based PC maker Dell Computer agreed to acquire about 4 percent of Oslo, Norway-based Fast Search & Transfer (FST). Dell is taking 2.1 percent of FST now, with the option of taking an additional 2.1 percent investment in the future.

The Lycos and Dell investments are subject to FST shareholder approval and are expected to close in January.

FST is traded on the over-the-counter (OTC) market. Normally, companies traded on the OTC market are small, early stage ventures without many shares outstanding or shareholders, which excludes the companies from being listed on major indexes such as the Nasdaq. These companies also tend to have small earnings.

Dell's primary interest in FST likely has to do with the company's wish to further incorporate Internet and corporate intranet search capabilities into Dell servers and personal computer systems.

"From an infrastructure perspective, we plan to take a larger role in building the systems that power these search engines," said Jerele Neeld, a Dell spokesman. "We think search engines and search technology is a core Internet technology that will grow in importance as the Web grows."

Neeld said Dell would make further announcements in the near future on how FST technology will be incorporated into the company's systems.

The full details of the transactions were not disclosed, but Bob Davis, chief executive of Waltham, Mass.-based Lycos, will join FST's board of directors.

The Lycos investment extends an existing alliance between the firms, with FST providing various capabilities to Lycos, including MP3, multimedia and FTP search as well as music hosting.

FST hopes the equity investments by Lycos and Dell will give it "additional market insight and expose many more people" to its technology, Thomas Fussell, chairman of FST, said in a statement.