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Inktomi was founded in January/February 1996 by University of California, Berkeley professor Eric Brewer and graduate student Paul Gauthier at the University of California, Berkeley. The company was initially founded based on the web search engine that was developed at the university. HotBot was the first search engine that made use of Inktomi's search technology.

Using technology based on parallel-computing system design, Inktomi's search engine and Web crawler products deliver the speed and performance characteristic of a supercomputer while utilizing smaller, less expensive workstations. The Inktomi search engine incorporates Audience1, a software package that enables real-time mass customization and highly targeted advertising on the World Wide Web.

Inktomi develops scalable network applications that dramatically improve Internet information access and delivery. These software applications, including the world's largest search engines and carrier-class network cache systems, leverage Inktomi’s unique parallel and cluster computing technologies to deliver extreme scalability and performance.

The Inktomi search engine enables users to easily search vast amounts of information on the Internet, including Web sites and Usenet Newsgroups. Unique among existing search engines, its parallel processing technology is harnessed to enable the first truly scalable Web engine. These engines are built using networks of commodity workstations, which yields a superior price-performance ratio, fault tolerance, and the ability to expand by simply adding workstations to the network.

Inktomi's search engines are the only ones in existence with the capacity to index the entire Web, which is estimated to have more than 50 million retrievable documents. In addition, the company's Web "crawler," which is the automated software robot that gathers information to be stored and queried in the search engine database, is also an application of the scalable server technology and is faster than any crawler currently available. The company believes that its scalable server technology will provide a significant competitive advantage because it enables the Inktomi search engine to completely index the entire Web, and update its database frequently, making it the most comprehensive and up-to-date of any index currently available.

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