ICQ Inc., the successor of Mirabilis Ltd. was created when America Online acquired all Mirabilis' assets in June 1998. Mirabilis was founded in July 1996 when four young Israeli avid-computer users established a new Internet company. Yair Goldfinger (26,Chief Technology Officer), Arik Vardi (27,Chief Executive Officer), Sefi Vigiser (25,President), and Amnon Amir (24, currently studying), created the company in order to introduce a new way of communication over the Internet. They observed the fast deployment of the World Wide Web which was propelled by the mounting popularity of surfing and browsing, and watched the growing number of people interacting with web servers. They realized, however, that something more profound was evolving under the surface. Millions of people have been connected to one huge world wide network - the Internet. They noticed that those people were connected - but not interconnected. They realized that if one missing component would be added, all these people, in addition to interacting with web servers, would be able to interact with each other. The missing link was the technology which would enable the Internet users to locate each other online on the Internet, and to create peer-to-peer communication channels, in a straight forward, easy, and simple manner. They pioneered this technology, that way opening a whole new industry.
In November 1996, only four months after the establishment of Mirabilis, the first version of the ICQ ("I Seek You") product was deployed over the Internet. It was enthusiastically received and immediately embraced, first by a small number of users, but soon thereafter, by hundreds of thousands. Users introduced the product to their friends in an evangelistic-like manner. This chain reaction created one of the largest download rates for a start-up company in the history of the Internet. As Alexander Woodby from Tucows wrote, "ICQ is one program that's definitely taking the net by storm. Started by a small group of people, it's proven itself as perhaps the leading interpersonal chat program today." This sent a very strong message to Mirabilis regarding the potential importance of the Internet-Category they just created. Mirabilis was the first to introduce a unique innovative propagation technique dubbed "word-of-mouse", enabling the users to propagate the program from within itself with the click of a button. Mirabilis also introduced a whole new philosophy related to the way people locate, learn the availability and alert each other as well as many of the features, design elements and fundamentals of the user-interface, functionality, and terminology. Those were liked by the users and quickly adopted by them, and are now being copied by the arriving new entries to this space.
Having the First Mover Advantage and being the creator-of-the-category on the Internet, Mirabilis was the only vendor of such a product until the beginning of May 1997. In this crucial half-a-year, it acquired a critical body of 850,000 registrations. Mirabilis continued to keep its dominant position in this newly-created space.
The World's First to Achieve 100,000 , 200,000 ,...500,000 Simultaneous On-line Users on the Internet
In June 1997 Mirabilis achieved another record. For the first time on the Internet, 100,000 concurrent subscribers on-line were handled. So far Mirabilis is the only one to achieve this record. With its proprietary robust and sophisticated Internet server-technology, and upscalable architecture, which is the only one of its kind, ICQ is handling currently in peak-times hundreds of thousands of users.
Thousands of Truly Grass-root, Self-Assembled Internet Communities
The ICQ team experiences very rapid growth. It continuously develops additional products and services based on its technology. Those have been introduced, and will continue to be introduced into the marketplace in short intervals. Its successful recently-introduced new services - User-Created Interest Lists, introduced in May '97, and User-Created Public Chat-Rooms, introduced in August '97, were immediately endorsed and implemented by thousands of users. In a very short time thousands of User-Created Chat-Rooms have been opened, some of them having hundreds of participants. At the time of this writing tens of thousands of User-Created Interest Lists, Groups and active chat rooms, reflecting the wide diversity of human interest and creating a popular forum for the expression of the whole spectrum of individual tastes and agenda. Provided with a place for people with similar interest to locate on-line each other, tens of thousands of users already joined those lists.
Many Additional Tools and Products
In August 1997 Mirabilis announced its Intranet Server, an ICQ server for the enterprise. Among the additional products which have recently been released is a new client which introduced once more a host of completely new features and concepts, a Mac version, a Unix version and an advanced search engine. The ICQ team is developing specialized servers, and a variety of other communication products, products for the building of virtual communities, new services, facilities, and enhancements.
Strong and Recognized Brand
In the short period of its existence, ICQ developed a strong and recognized brand name and received numerous awards and recognitions. Among them were: "Best Internet Program" by SIAF and CNET Downloads Shareware.com, "Essential Downloads" by PC Magazine, "Cream of the Crop" by Tucows, "The Best of the Weekly Wares" by CNET Downloads.com, "The Cool Tool of the Day" by Cool Tool, "The Top Downloads and Editors Picks" by Softseek, "Pick of the Week" by Stroud's. It made the "WinList" of Windows Magazine, the "100Hot.com" List and more.