Alexa Internet, Inc. is a California-based subsidiary company of Amazon.com which provides commercial web traffic data. Once it is installed, the Alexa Toolbar collects data on browsing behavior and transmits it to the Alexa website, where it is stored and analyzed, forming the basis for the company's web traffic reporting. Alexa claims that 6 million people visit its website monthly.
Operations and history
Alexa Internet was founded in 1996 by American web entrepreneurs Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat. The company's name was chosen in homage to the Library of Alexandria,drawing a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world and the potential of the Internet to become a similar store of knowledge.
The company offered a toolbar that gave Internet users suggestions on where to go next, based on the traffic patterns of its user community. Alexa also offered context for each site visited: to whom it was registered, how many pages it had, how many other sites pointed to it, and how frequently it was updated.
Alexa's operation includes archiving of webpages as they are crawled. This database served as the basis for the creation of the Internet Archive accessible through the Wayback Machine. In 1998, the company donated a copy of the archive, two terabytes in size, to the Library of Congress. Alexa continues to supply the Internet Archive with Web crawls.
In 1999, Alexa was acquired by Amazon.com for about US$250 million in Amazon stock as the company moved away from its original vision of providing an "intelligent" search engine. Alexa began a partnership with Google in early 2002, and with the Open Directory Project in January 2003. In May 2006, Amazon replaced Google with Live Search as a provider of search results. In December 2006, they released Alexa Image Search. Built in-house, it was the first major application to be built on their Web platform.
In December 2005, Alexa opened its extensive search index and Web-crawling facilities to third party programs through a comprehensive set of Web services and APIs. These could be used, for instance, to construct vertical search engines that could run on Alexa's own servers or elsewhere. In May 2007, Alexa changed their API to require comparisons be limited to three sites, reduced the size of embedded graphs shown using Flash, and added mandatory embedded BritePic ads.
In April 2007, the lawsuit Alexa v. Hornbaker was filed to stop trademark infringement by the Statsaholic service.In the lawsuit, Alexa alleged that Hornbaker was stealing traffic graphs for profit, and that the primary purpose of his site was to display graphs that were generated by Alexa's servers. Hornbaker removed the term Alexa from his service name on March 19, 2007.
On November 27, 2008, Amazon announced that Alexa Web Search was no longer accepting new customers, and that the service would be deprecated or discontinued for existing customers on January 26, 2009.