On stage today at our TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Vinod Khosla, the founder of Khosla Ventures, recalled a story from the days when he backed Excite, one of the original Internet portals. Specifically, he spoke briefly about the time they failed to acquire Google.
This story has been circulated for a while, but not many people know about it. Khosla stated it simply: Google was willing to sell for under a million dollars, but Excite didn’t want to buy them.
Khosla, who was also a partner at Kleiner Perkins (which ended up backing Google) at the time, said he had “a lot of interesting discussions” with Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at the time (early 1999). The story goes that after Excite CEO George Bell rejected Page and Brin’s $1 million price for Google, Khosla talked the duo down to $750,000. But Bell still rejected that.
Whoops. As of today, Google’s market cap stands at $167 billion.
Excite, meanwhile, was acquired by Ask Jeeves in 2004. That company became Ask.com, and now it’s owned by Barry Diller’s IAC. As Diller stated at Disrupt today, Ask would probably be better off outside of IAC at this point.
What might have been…