IQ News: The Golden Door? Web Players Continue To Open Portals

You’re nowhere on the Web these days, unless you gotta portal. The ether–or was it just last week’s Internet World conference–zings with the sound of launches and repositionings. Hey, the strategy worked for Yahoo–the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company announced last week that its revenues have tripled in the past year. Among last week’s new initiatives in the portal category were ones from Network Associates, Wired Digital, Netscape, Microsoft [see story, p. 60] and, in a way, Earthlink.
In the business-portal category, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Network Associates said it will build one around users’ need to upgrade the company’s McAfee anti-virus software; and Netscape Communications, Mountain View, Calif., announced Custom Netcenter, which will allow businesses to create their own portals using Netcenter content.
Among the biggest news of the week was the acquisition of San Francisco-based Wired Digital by Lycos, Waltham, Mass., for $83 million. While the deal makes Lycos a more robust service, a Wired Digital official said search service HotBot will continue to operate as an independent portal. Meanwhile, Lycos’ new site, still in beta, is more portal-like than ever, stripped down to simple lists of services and topics.
But last week indicated possible portal backlash: a company that walks like a portal and quacks like a portal, but insists it’s not. Pasadena, Calif.-based Internet service provider EarthLink Network announced a revamped version of its Personal Start Page, a customizable “launch point” for users with plenty of e-commerce.
“We’re not a portal come lately,” insisted Howard Lefkowitz, vice president, business development and Internet marketing. However, EarthLink is definitely tapping into the same revenue opportunities enjoyed by sites with registered eyeballs. “It’s about brand, it’s about loyalty,” Lefkowitz said.