Go.com Goes With Its Strength

With 21.3 million visitors in December, Go.com (GO)
attracts more visitors to its Web sites than all but five Internet
properties.

Unfortunately for Go.com, those five are America Online Inc. (AOL),
Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO)
,
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)
,
Lycos Inc. (LCOS)
Lycos
and [email protected] (XCIT)
– all of whom are competitors of Go.com in the expensive portal race.

But no more. Go.com has announced it is narrowing its strategic focus.
No longer will it define itself as an all-purpose portal. Rather, it
will re-position itself as a specialty portal that will emphasize
entertainment, recreation and leisure.

It’s a good move for Go.com. The company lost $1 billion last year,
mostly due to Disney’s purchase of Infoseek. It would be certain to lose
millions more trying to narrow the traffic gap between itself and the
portals immediately ahead of it (Lycos at 30.3 million visitors in
December and Excite/AtHome at 27.7 million), never mind ‘Net giants such
as AOL (53.8 million) and Yahoo! (42.4 million), which it has no hopes
of ever catching.

On the other hand, it’s not likely the shift – expected to take place
over the next few months – will hurt revenue, which reached $200 million
in fiscal 1999, mostly through e-commerce and advertising. Unless, of
course, traffic begins to decline. That’s not likely to happen.

Further, Go.com can leverage the Disney brand name much more effectively
as a specialty player, rather than trying to be all things to all
people. Same goes for two of its top Web properties, ESPN.com and
ABCNews.com.

What Go.com and Disney are doing is acknowledging that the portal
landscape of the future will feature only one or two successful
general-purpose portals, and a number of successful portals targeting
mass-audience niches – sports, entertainment, news, personal finance,
etc.

After a year of transition that saw Disney’s Web efforts founder, it
appears the company is developing a solid strategy that plays to its
strengths and built-in customer base. Shareholders should be pleased.


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