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Netscape Goes Traditional; Does Calacanis Take the Hit?
Tom Drapeau, who we interviewed last month, has announced changes to the Netscape.com domain and brand. He notes, "Visitors to Netscape.com will see a more traditional news experience very soon. Don't worry, the social news site isn't going away! We will keep you updated on where you will be able to find the social news site as we get closer to making the switch."
Tom does not discuss where the social news site will move to or what will be included, my guess is that will come in 2-4 weeks. This is a smart move. Basically they are undoing what they did during the Calacanis-era.
Here is my guess as to how they (aol, calacanis, etc.) decided to use Netscape.com as the social news site when it began. They had traffic flowing to the site and realized it would be easier to swap an existing brand rather than try to build a new brand. It would appear less "clone-y" if they used big powerful Netscape.com vs. xyz124abc.com. It would allow Calacanis an immediate "success" in the eyes of AOL management and to the industry at large. Of course traffic really never grew, users just clicked voting and the site ran into huge spam issues. At the time of this writing, I have 249 emails asking me for votes from people I don't know. I do notice that Mahalo uses Netscape heavily for traffic-building. Will the change affect Mahalo?
In baseball, when a pitcher is removed mid-inning, any runners on base are his responsibility and if they score, are charged to his earned run average (ERA). Is this move/change tied to Calacanis? He left AOL/Netscape about 10 months ago, is this too long for a runner to head home for it to count?
It will be interesting to see what AOL property takes over the social news site and if any of their loyals will make the move. This will be a great test to see if social news can work for AOL. Jason noted many times that it was working on Netscape.com but of course they already had "float" to support whatever they did. Building new is generally harder than leveraging existing. Now they shall be on their own, and survival will be a totally different animal. Good luck to Tom and the team!