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Lycos Inc.

March, 2013
Rank in India
Rank in World

Parent Company
Ybrant Digital (public BSE listed)

Founded Year

Number of Employee

Head Office
Hyderabad, India (parent company)
Career Page

Major Acquisitions


hotbot’s Story

HotBot is a search engine run by Lycos Inc. an american subsidiary of BSE listed Indian company Ybrant Digital.

Wired magazine launched “HotBot” a search engine in partnership with Inktomi Corporation in May 1996. Hotbot was the first search engine to expand its database to 54 million Web documents. It became a popular tool with search results served by the Inktomi database and directory results provided originally by LookSmart and then The Open Directory since mid-1999. Hotbot also used search data from Direct Hit for a period, which was a tool that used click-through data to manipulate results.

Lycos acquired HotBot in 1998 and for a number of years HotBot languished with limited development and falling market share. At the end of 2002 HotBot was relaunched as a multiple option search tool, giving users the option to search either the FAST, Google, Inktomi or Teoma databases.

Lycos was sold for $36 million in August 2010 to Ybrant Digital, an internet marketing company based in Hyderabad, India. Ybrant Digital, a digital media company, is a public BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) listed Indian company founded by Suresh Reddy and Vijay Kancharla. Prior to co-founding two successful companies USAGreetings and Ybrant Digital, Suresh Reddy worked in various roles across different industries in Fortune 500 companies, such as Caterpillar, Chrysler, SBC(PacBell) and Charles Schwab. He is an alumni of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur(B.Tech) and Iowa State University(M.S). Prior to co-founding USAGreetings and Ybrant Digital, Vijay Kancharla worked with some of the Fortune 500 companies, such as Hewlett Packard and Pacific Bell. He is an alumni of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad(B.Tech) and University of Louisville(M.S) After acquisition Lycos (parent of HotBot) become a wholly owned subsidiary of Ybrant Digital with a Headquarter Waltham, Massachusetts, USA.

In July 2011, HotBot was relaunched with a new robot-like mascot, a new logo, and a modern site design. In the beta, HotBot became a portal, returning not just web search results, but also searches from various Lycos websites, such as News, Shopping and Weather Zombie.

Its parent Ybrant Digital’s story

Ybrant Digital is a Hyderabad-based digital marketing solutions company founded by Suresh Reddy and Vijay Kancharla as, in September 1999.

Suresh’s father was an engineer in the defence and Suresh came to Hyderabad from Bangalore in his seventh class. He was an average student till then. But when they moved there and joined Keshav Memorial school, he started topping the class. Then he moved to St. Patricks in Secunderabad and later joined Alphonso Junior College. He studied hard those days and did well. He was keen on cracking the IIT and when he did not get it the first time, he joined JNTU for a year and then got through to IIT, Kharagpur later.

Post IIT, Suresh left for the USA and did his MS in the University of Iowa circa 1990. He moved to Detroit for a job after his MS, and worked in the automobile industry with GM. Caterpillar, Chrysler for six years. It was then that the dotcom bubble began to grow and KRK Vijay (Vijay Kancharla) who was in California then asked Suresh to join the bandwagon. In 1995 the two young turks from St. Alphonso’s got the first bug of entrepreneurship. They started an e-greetings company called USAgreetings with some pictures uploaded from the many pictures KRK had taken.

Starting from that point on, they never really looked back. The model did not work – though there were many success stories being bandied about of similar companies being bought out for fortunes. Company went about to create content – which they outsourced from India. Then Ybrant Technologies was headed by another of their classmates Ramaraju. Ad professionals were roped in to provide concepts, animations and copy. Greeting cards were developed in thousands and uploaded. Though they managed to survive, the model never took off. But what worked for them when the entire dotcom bubble went bust was their resilience and never-say-die spirit. USAGreetings was renamed as Ybrant Technologies Inc. in 2000.

Their client gave him a mailing project to mail to his customers. He accepted it and they built the software and delivered the mailing solution which became a new revenue stream. They grew that business for a while until they realised that growth in that area was limited. At the same time he was still pitching for VCs. It was then that a friend of him gave him some fine advise – to lie low for a few years, stop meeting VCs and develop a robust business model meanwhile. They moved into SEO and other web applications, until they finally found their calling – providing services and tools for enterprise marketing which covered the gamut of all that they did. They changed their thinking and started to be more aligned with what their customers wanted. That perspective helped them a lot. It also became the positioning statement of the company – something which he had never thought of till then. But by this time they had seen the worst periods and survived them, emptying their pockets and maxing their credit. But they stuck on instead of falling to the lure of going back to the job.

One thing led to another and they started growing the business by acquiring companies in the USA which were in similar businesses. They outsourced the work to their Indian ops. As the business started to grow bigger, they found support with investors. They were now a business that others were willing to take a business risk on. They kept on acquiring companies with similar businesses across the world that added value – in Israel, Serbia, Singapore. First acquisition took place in 2006, MediosOne, an SEM and Display company in USA to change the art of marketing and then in 2007 Ybrant merged two US co’s called VolvoMP and AdDynamix for using them to assist in software up gradation and Email marketing. Later, in 2008, acquired an European company named Oridian. In the same year Ybrant Technologies integrated all its acquired companies (Oridian, AdDynamix, MediosOne, and VoloMP) and formally changed its name to ‘Ybrant Digital’. The reorganization of the company with the name change resulted in the formation of three primary operating divisions; Display Ad Networks, Technology platforms and Strategic initiatives. In December 2009, Ybrant added location based advertising (LBA) to its services, entering into a partnership with LiveVana Innovations & Lepton Software. In 2010, Ybrant Digital launched its local search platform in India ‘Ybrant Reach‘ (YReach), starting in Hyderabad. Ybrant Digital bought search-based internet company Lycos which is a top 25 Internet destination worldwide. Ybrant, in the year 2011 merged with Indain software company LGS Global which helped Ybrant to list in BSE, India and there changing Ybrant Digital to Ybrant Digital Ltd.

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