NEW YORK (CNNfn) - GO Network, an Internet portal created in a joint venture between Walt Disney Co. and Infoseek.com, is launching Tuesday, and so, too, is Infoseek's image as more than just a one-brand, search engine company.
At least that's what Infoseek President and CEO Harry Motro hopes.
"Don't think of Infoseek as a one-brand company," Motro told CNNfn's "Before Hours" Tuesday. "We think Infoseek has a great search brand. But, really, to be successful with the consumer you have to have a network of interactive services with leading consumer brands."
GO Network, billed as a site that provides "simplicity, control and confidence" for consumers, will combine Infoseek's search and directory technology with content and electronic commerce from, among others, ABCNews.com, ESPN.com and Disney, which owns a 43 percent stake in Infoseek.
"Throughout its history, Disney has been a leader in the development of new entertainment technologies," said Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner. "Our involvement in GO Network represents a fitting addition to this legacy. With GO Network, we are bringing a new level of functionality and entertainment to the Internet."
Infoseek brand in jeopardy?
Despite the fact that the GO name will replace the Infoseek brand as the portal service, Motro said Infoseek will continue to be marketed as a search and directory engine and that he's not worried about Infoseek losing its brand identity which it has worked so hard to build up.
"If GO wins, we win, because it's part of our company," he said.
Motivated to partner with Disney to catch up to larger portal rivals such as Yahoo! (YHOO) and America Online (AOL), the advertising-reliant Infoseek will lead the integrated sales force drawn from the contributing Internet sites. That leadership role is a "strategic advantage" for his company, Motro said, given the broadened base of advertising outlets that will be available.
An expanded audience is also a benefit. Internet audience measurement firm Relevant Knowledge, now merged with Media Metrix, estimated that on its launch date GO Network would capture 36 percent of audience reach. That estimate is based on October 1998 figures for the user bases of the domains in the GO Network. By comparison, in the same month AOL captured a 51.4 percent audience reach, Microsoft 48.4 percent and Yahoo! 47.6 percent.
Catching Net stocks' wave?
That some analysts are raising the margins on Internet stocks doesn't worry Jake Winebaum, chairman of Disney's Buena Vista Internet group, who told CNNfn, "Our interest and focus is on creating a great product and putting the whole (of Disney) behind it." And with that, he said, shareholder value will benefit.
Disney (DIS) stock was among the most actively traded Tuesday, with both Goldman Sachs and Salomon Smith Barney upgrading the stock's rating and Goldman saying it is bullish on Disney's alliance with Infoseek. By midday Disney shares were up 2-1/8 at 37-3/8.
Infoseek (SEEK) stock was trading down 2-3/4 at 85 after rising more than 50 percent Monday.