Netscape and Digg: Mike Arrington’s take–and mine

Enjoyed reading Mike’s astute observations on Netscape.com’s forced migration into a digg copy:
“At the end of the day, the Netscape product is a soulless reproduction of one of the most interesting cultural experiments occurring on the web right now. It was thrown at millions of mainstream Internet users (previous Netscape portal users) who don’t understand Digg and probably don”t care (yet). If anything, my bet is that total page views at Netscape have dropped since the changeover, possibly substantially. Buying users from Digg won”’t change that one bit.”
Back in the day of 2000-20001, when I worked for Netscape (which was owned by AOL), my team’s job was to take the portal and turn it into something women and men who weren’t high tech and over 45 could use. We built a good product, margins and traffic jumped, and there was rejoicing in the land–at least, until the next AOL re-org, a constant in their culture and one that required impressively titled men with huge egos to constantly be moved to other (less important) new projects so they don’t do battle to the death with the other big dogs right in the Dulles parking lots.
In other words, AOL’s never made the commitment to Netscape as a brand that Kevin Rose has made with digg–instead, every 18 months they’ve handed it over to some impatient executive who doesn’t realize–yet–he’s being sent to the high-class version of corporate Siberia–where, if he slays the dragon, they might let him come back and run something they consider really important–like shopping, autos, or travel (joke).
I like Jason and think he is smart and talented, so this isn’t a comment about him-it’s a note about a corporate culture that seems to not really value most of the satellite brands, but will expend tons of energy on the core business, i.e., “The brand.”
If you question this logic, take a look at the wonderfully crafted tmz.com, an AOL-supported gossip site that’s come out of nowhere and become the hot spot for celeb news and then imagine that Jason probably pulled his digg copy off by using Weblogs Inc staff already on the payroll and a couple of designers, plus one PR flack.
What else can the guy do but use his blog to market? AOL ain’t helping him–and they’re not letting him get near anything the old guard thinks is really important.
Can anyone say twisting in the wind of the blogosphere three times fast?

Latest Comments

  1. Jim B says:

    Thanks for the TMZ.com shoutout!

  2. Frank Enson says:

    I think someone should consider popurls.com for traffic generating.

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