IQ News: Plans For Webcrawler

Ever since Excite acquired WebCrawler in December of 1996, skeptics have wondered: What will they do with a separate brand in precisely the same market segment?
Now, at a time when most search engines are trying to be more–with communities, content tie-ins and chats–Excite has explained: it wants WebCrawler to be less.
WebCrawler will be repositioned as a faster, streamlined service, with different Internet-based tools. The site will be reduced graphically for the fastest page-loading time possible, and will include a daily tool box with baby-name finders, calculators, free email services and the like. Daily changing subjects will include health and fitness, work, personal finance and travel.
“Excite is more of a free online service,” said Joe Kraus, senior vice president and co-founder of Excite. “WebCrawler is focused to be the shortest distance between the consumer and what they want on the Web.”
Both Excite sites rank among Media Metrix’s top ten largest sites for last year, according to measurements of unduplicated audience reach at home and at work. WebCrawler has an advantage, Kraus said, because of its early position in the market.
“The WebCrawler acquisition has been confusing to me because I didn’t see the immediate synergy,” said Jesse Berst, editorial director of AnchorDesk.com. “Now finally I see some changes. There’s still some room for a pure search site.”
Excite will have to put considerable muscle into making its brand a leader as an online service against similarly positioned Lycos and Yahoo, as well as AOL. WebCrawler will be pitted against Alta Vista and Microsoft/Inktomi. “It’s hard enough to have one big brand, much less two,” Berst said.–Anya Sacharow