Alexa Internet, Inc., a small San Francisco area start-up company, has launched a new Internet search tool called "Alexa" which looks for patterns within the Web. Rather than bringing up all sites which contain the keywords which has been entered, it retrieves a limited number of sites. Once the user has identified a site which is suitable, Alexa points the user to similar sites. A search on package delivery services which retrieves UPS will, if that site is selected as suitable, provide references to FedEx, DHL, Worldwide Express, and a score of other services. Alexa does this by looking for Web sites with similar content, then linking them together. Pat-terns of use affect the subsequent link-ages. If few users jump from the initial site to a linked site, that site is dropped as a future link. Alexa provides a brief profile of each suggested site, including the name of the organization running the site, the speed of its com-puters, and the number of pages in the site.
Alexa can be downloaded free. The company hopes to make money from its ser-vice by means of advertising in a box at the bottom of each screen. Currently, however, it is relying on venture capital provided by Etoile, the Swiss company that owns Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
Alexa is a software add-on for Web browsers. It requires that Netscape or Microsoft Explorer by loaded. It also requires 16MB of RAM. The URL is http://www.alexa.com/..