America Online Inc. today announced plans to make the Excite Inc. directory service its exclusive search engine, while Excite said it will acquire AOL's WebCrawler search service for 2 million shares of Excite stock, or $18 million at today's valuation.
The deal, which gives AOL, of Dulles, Va., 20 percent ownership of the directory services provider, is aimed at positioning AOL's directory services among the strongest online advertising venues, said AOL Chairman and CEO Steve Case in a statement. Advertising revenues garnered through the Excite-powered AOL search feature will be shared by the two companies, officials said.
The terms of the agreement also call for Case to fill a spot on the Excite board of directors.
The partnership also will deliver a wider variety of "smart-search" utilities to AOL users and higher visibility for the Excite engine, according to the companies.
More details will be released in a press conference planned for this afternoon.
Excite shares were up $2 7/8 on the news this morning, to $9. The company is based in Mountain View, Calif.