Netscape acquires AtWeb

The firm acquires the Web site service and promotion company in a move to beef up its Netcenter portal site's small-business channel.

Netscape Communications today announced that it has acquired AtWeb, a Web site service and promotion company, in a move to beef up its Netcenter portal site's small-business channel.

With the acquisition, Netcenter gains 600,000 registered AtWeb users, and a host of Web site maintenance and enhancement services. Netcenter also will integrate AtWeb's search engine registering service, "Register it," into its Smart Browsing, Netscape Search, and Netscape Directory.

Netscape acquired the company for $95 million in stock, based on its closing price today of 28.3125 per share.

The acquisition makes Netcenter the latest portal to pursue an equity stake in a company that can enhance its small-business resources. Just last week, for example, Microsoft acquired LinkExchange in a $250 million deal.

According to analysts, Microsoft forged the deal to get more customers onto its portal site, MSN.com, the idea being that the additional customers provide detailed demographic information, which MSN then can use for more targeted advertising.

Netscape eventually plans to introduce an e-commerce affiliation program as well as an advertising banner exchange program. Both are services that attracted Microsoft to LinkExchange.

In the ongoing race among portal sites for more and more eyeballs, Netcenter has taken significant strides since this summer to add service and technology features that have heightened the popularity of other portals. Netscape also has made efforts to drive its Navigator Web browser users into Netcenter by linking keywords to the portal's content pages.

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