Excite Passed On Buying Google Because Their Engine Was Too Good
Internet search engines have been around since we still used the words "fresh" and "wack" unironically. But back then, they were so terrible. Your typical mid-'90s questions about Hootie & the Blowfish would only land you on fugu recipe sites and some very unsettling aquatic porn.
But that all changed in 1996, when Stanford University student Larry Page came up with a revolutionary new search engine, Google. Well, back then it was still called BackRub (an appropriate name, given how much it now loves to invade your personal space). But Page wasn't interested in starting his own company, so instead he tried to sell tried to sell BackRub to existing web portal page Excite. And they would've given this fresh-faced student $750,000 for the software, but there was one problem: BackRub was just too efficient.
Excite CEO George Bell informed Page that BackRub's incredible search algorithms were downright bad for Excite's "stickiness" -- i.e. it didn't force users to wade through one ad-filled page after another before finding the results they were actually after. In fact, Bell wanted a search engine that was at most "80 percent as good as the other search engines" out there. It sounds stupidly shortsighted now, but this was at the beginning of the dot-com bubble, when "stupid shortsightedness" was the theme of every internet startup's Christmas party.
Wikipedia“Nice numbers, kid, but the real money is in flashing banner ads.”