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RealTime IT News

Portals: Old Dogs, New Tricks, New Name

"Portals" are back in favor with investors amid the proposed "merger of the century" between America Online (AOL) and Time Warner (TWX).

The hubs, or networks as they should now be called, are recovering from a rough year in 1999, after blossoming in 1998. In 1999, investors grew increasingly skeptical over these companies' primarily advertising driven revenue models, lofty valuations, and the inevitable downward trend in growth drivers such as the percentage growth of new online users in the U.S.

But opinions are changing. Investors and consumers were certainly surprised to learn that AOL will own 55 percent of the merged company, despite delivering only 20 percent of the combined revenue and less than 1/3 of the combined cash flow.

Indeed, in this new era of online convergence among PCs, televisions and even house-hold appliances, online networks with large user-bases, tremendous reach and proven revenue channels are once again looked upon as the platform for the future of integrated media. "Old media, meet your new boss," wrote one journalist following the "merger of equals" between AOL and Time Warner.

Portals, it seems, are now viewed as drivers of growth for rich media oriented offline companies such as Time Warner. For Reporter@Large, it appears these online networks are the foundations for the future of media.

All of this attention makes it a perfect time to introduce investors to one of the most under-valued and overlooked Internet stocks, Lycos