Netscape Will Revert Back to a Portal

Roll the dice on life without AOL

When Jason Calacanis (former GM of Netscape who morphed it into a social news site last summer) quit AOL, I wrote about how I hoped that in his wake AOL would change Netscape back into what it was: a halfway decent (if low-brow) portal. Breaking news announces that they’ll finally do just that next week. From the AP article (9-22-2207: it’s now deleted):

Within the next week or so, Netscape.com will revert to a more traditional format and resemble the portal that AOL also runs at AOL.com.

The switch back marks the latest in a string of changes since AOL acquired the Netscape brand in 1999, primarily for its once-dominant Web browser.

AOL spokeswoman Jay Esmele said the latest change was unrelated to last November’s departure of Jason Calacanis, who as Netscape head spearheaded the social-news effort.

That last bit of fodder seems unlikely, whether it’s AOL’s “official word” or not. Anyone who followed Netscape’s conversion and its ensuing lack of steam knows it was Jason’s baby: he ripped it off and “redesigned” it (or was responsible for it’s “redesign,” right down to the much-talked-about ad placement — right in the middle of the page). It was Jason who spammed Digg with talk of it and spoke of it around the Web and on his own blog ceaselessly, much the way he works Mahalo for the crowds now. Let AOL say what they will; it doesn’t change the facts: even AOL (sometimes) knows a losing proposition when they see one, even if the person who pushed it so hard to the masses can’t.

Update, 9-14-07 from Computer World: AOL is moving the Netscape social news platform to propeller.com, which will go live next week, when netscape.com finally reverts back to a news portal, which for now can be found at netscape.aol.com. Netscape.aol.com will become another social news portal when the changes are complete. Got that? Are they trying to make it as confusing as they can, or is it just me?

Image from joi.vox.