Whatever happened to...

...the Topclick search engine?

Operated by Vancouver based, Delaware registered Topclick International Inc., Topclick was an internet (meta-)search engine that operated from early 1999 until early 2001. It could be found under the topclick.com domain, a domain which has since passed into the greedy mitts of some domain broker.

Topclick was set up in June 1998 by a gent by the name of Chris Lewis, a former British Telecom marketing kind of person. The eight-person, two-bit company designed a Google based search system that came up with fewer but generally more useful hits and included an (I guess also meta-)directory of popular subjects linked to major search engines.

That was not what attracted people to it. At least not me. The whole thing was, as promised, free of banner ads, cookies (nosey or not) and billed itself as a system that guaranteed privacy. Which appeared to be quite true. I not once saw a banner and was never prompted to submit any information or accept any cookies. One could be reasonably confident that one's searches for pr0n and communist manifesta were less likely to be recorded for fun, profit or posterity since they were not (or at least claimed not to be) interested in collecting and selling user data.

Thing is, the business model didn't work and I'm not sure how it could have. It sounded nice but the bottom line made more losses than sense. Beginning in 2000 the site was unreachable more and more often and the hits returned on any given search became fewer and fewer. They managed to reach over a million page loads a month but I'm not sure that any of those hits contributed a penny to the company's coffers.

The company never came anywhere near making a profit and the whole search engine shebang was put up for sale on 2001-02-28. One bid I saw was for $75000, a far cry from the more than $2000000 of capital that landed in the bit bucket. The remnants of the company were absorbed by a shady California outfit by the name of Datalogic International (OTCBB:DLGI) which later went on to achieve fame and notoriety for a "stock tip" spam scam. On 2001-07-30 the TOCK OTC stock symbol was removed from the listings.

This article is the result of some poking around that I did after finally removing the site from my bookmark list and before the last traces of the company disappeared from the net. Topclick is perhaps the only unfortunate venture of the dot-com madness that I miss. Twas good while it lasted.

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