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RealTime IT News

More Relevant: The Real Score for Top Web Sites

America Online (NYSE:AOL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) may be within shouting distance of Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) in user count according to an exclusive unduplicated unique users number crunch we asked research firm Relevant Knowledge to run for us.

Rolled Up Tallies

July

Overall Leaders

Users

Top Web Sites

(millions)

Yahoo!/Four11

26.6

Microsoft.com/HotMail/MSN

24.1

AOL.com/Mirabilis-ICQ

23.9

Infoseek/Disney/ABC/Starwave

18.8

Lycos/Tripod/Angelfire/WhoWhere

18.5

Netscape.com

17.6

Excite/Webcrawler/Magellan

17.3

GeoCities

14.2

TOTAL

161.1

AVERAGE

20.1

data courtesy of Relevant Knowledge

The data also confirmed our hunch that the combined Infoseek-Disney-ABC-Starwave (NASDAQ:SEEK) and Lycos-Tripod-WhoWhere-Angelfire (NASDAQ:LCOS) user tallies rank higher than Wall Street recognizes.

The unduplicated tally shows that Microsoft is a clear second when counting its total Web presence including HotMail-MSN. As reported by Internet Stock Report in the Wall Street Journal the other day, Microsoft's upcoming "MSN as portal" effort will enable the company to make a run for number one. The best laid plans of mice and MSN?

Microsoft may already have bought its way to that slot if it wasn't for the Department of Justice scrutiny. The company is 2.5 million users or a top 30 to 40 Web site acquisition--a $50 million buy--away from that top slot.

One notable factor about the Microsoft-HotMail-MSN combination is the overlap of users or duplicated reach: 10.8 million of the same users. Usually when acquiring eyeballs you want a new pair, not the ones already gazing at your shelves.

That's an unseen benefit of Disney-Infoseek. The numbers Relevant Knowledge gave us showed just 3 million duplicated users, meaning it was an eyeball bonanza that investors may benefit from.

SEEK is a Disney Internet unit tracking stock. Forget about Infoseek the sleeper stock that came late to the search engine party on Wall Street two years ago. Wipe the slate clean. Now what do you think Disney's Internet presence could be worth as a tradable instrument? It may be right there in SEEK.

Now that GeoCities has "GeoCurrency" to spend (its common stock), expect it to start buying users. Why do users matter? They are the heart of commerce. No users means no ads or marketing dollars.

Our ultimate valuation of any Web site or effort relies on the lifetime value of the user (as customer). That translates into discounted cash flow and earnings and company/site valuation privately and publicly. Expect a lot of twisting and shouting soon among the bunch.

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