I feel Alta made some mistakes in 99 including the aborted PPC attempt and the "too many urls" PR blunders, but I think Rod did some good work in the last 12 months.
Alta is right now the premier SE on the net. No one is matching them as the "complete solution". From the low spam results to the value added services, Alta is running in a class of it's own. That is mostly due to management.
The uneasy part about this is that a new guy could throw all that to the wind. With CMGI talking IPO for Alta, a new guy could get talked into things like PPC again or slicing the db down to a third it's size. There could be all kinds of upsets waiting for us as a rookie CEO takes over.