RealTime IT News

Excite: Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Excite, Inc. joined the Internet community parade today with the launch of a beta program that invites members to create online communities for families, businesses and special interest groups.

The "Excite Communities" service is scheduled to make a formal debut on the People & Chat channel this fall with fully populated communities, Excite said in a statement.

Scott Derringer, Excite Communities product manager, told InternetNews.com that the beta launch will incorporate tools developed by Throw Inc., a firm Excite acquired in July.

In InternetNews.com's Internet Stock Report (ISR) today, Steve Harmon suggested that Excite may have avoided a purchase of WhoWhere? because it was betting on Throw to allow small bands of people to create communities via its own portal.

The connection here is that Excite is said to be responsible for upwards of 50% of WhoWhere?'s traffic, the directory provider recently acquired by Lycos.

Excite Communities will provide non-technical members with publishing tools and templates to create community welcome pages, announcements, contact lists, photo albums, group calendars, chat, discussions, bookmarks and group address books.

Excite is billing the service as the first of its kind on the Web in that it allows members to control their virtual neighborhood by choosing community focus, content, and public availability. For example, communities can either be unlisted and readable only to members, or directory-listed and open to the public.

"When people refer to community today, they typically think of chat, bulletin boards and public home pages," said Joe Kraus, senior vice president and co-founder, Excite, Inc., in a statement. "But no one has really completely integrated today's online communication tools with publishing online. Excite recognized an untapped opportunity on the Web to help groups of users with a common interest (a family, a Cub Scout pack, beanie baby collectors), who have no technical skills, create a unique place to share on the Web."

Excite's community offering follows significant strategic moves made by Lycos on the community front in recent months. Lycos' WhoWhere? acquisition also brought with it the Angelfire.com and mailcity.com Web entities, and earlier this month the company snapped up guestbook site GuestWorld in an all-stock deal.

GuestWorld services will be folded into Lycos' Tripod community site which was acquired in a $58 million deal in February.

"Community" was also the buzz word in the news last week when GeoCities agreed to a settlement with The Federal Trade Commission over Internet privacy charges.

The news brought GeoCities stock down in late afternoon trading on Friday following the Web community's strong initial public offering on Wall Street last week.

Excite (NASDAQ:XCIT) was also down -1/2 today in early trading at 41 1/2.