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In hindsight the strategy of concentrating on selling to portals certainly didn't help.
Fast ASA is a technology company. Other than Google they never fully concentrated on websearch. The bigger part of their business has always been corporate search and search technology.
But then they sold their websearch divison for a good sum, so it was far from being a failure.
What happens to the technology, and the brand, under new ownership is still to be seen.
We have a winner, we have a winner.
Google had nothing to do with AllTheWebs status as a SE. They just never quite had the algo to compete - close, but not close enough. I hate to say it, but there are keyword sectors in atw that are vaste wastelands of spam. The same sectors in Google are pretty clean.
Apart from that: what users? ATW never had any users. They had portals with once good marketshares. Those portals now loose users big time to Google, even though they serve Google results by now.
The old relevancy argument - we could go over that ad nauseam, in the end it has nothing to do with success or failure of ATW.
While we're at it... The phrase "never quite caught on" is past tense - that's perhaps a bit too soon, as "They have everything going for them".
One thing that has always bugged me; marketing two things at the same time, even two names (fast + alltheweb).
Yep. In fact, Google may have more of a spam problem. Likely not due to Alltheweb being better, but because spammers focus on spamming Google SERPs. Spammers aren't staying up late at night trying to figure out how to spam ATW. Any success in spamming ATW is likely accident rather than design.