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Excite gets new email partner

The Net portal has agreed to license technology from Software.com to power its Web-based email service, MailExcite.

Excite said today that it has agreed to license technology from Software.com to power its Web-based email service, MailExcite.

The announcement ends it previous relationship with WhoWhere, which hosted the email service and shared advertising revenues with Excite. As a result, the deal with Software.com allows the Web portal to not only maintain control of registrations on its service, but also to retain all advertising revenue served on email pages.

The deal falls curiously soon after WhoWhere was acquired by rival portal Lycos last month. However, Excite and Software.com have both maintained that their agreement was inked before WhoWhere became a part of Lycos.

"This nothing to do with the Lycos deal," said Brett Bullington, executive vice president at Excite.

Bullington said that the company made the switch because Excite wanted to host its own email service instead of allowing another company to take the reins.

Valdur Koha, chief operating officer at Software.com, added that Excite was looking for more expandable technology to support future endeavors into non-textual email.

For the past year, free Web-based email has turned into one of the hottest commodities on the Internet, as seen in Lycos' acquisition of WhoWhere, and Microsoft's acquisition of Hotmail, and Yahoo's acquisition of Four11.

Free email, along with other portal services such as home page builders and personalization, requires users to register with the service and thus provide more detailed information about usage habits. For this reason, Netizens who set up an email account usually return to the service to use the client, allowing the portal to boast a more loyal user base to advertisers.

Because of this technology, many of these email technology companies have been attractive to portals interested in acquiring their technology rather than building it themselves.

Now that many of these services have already been purchased by potential competitors, portals shopping for new partnerships may be on the look-out for less-known companies with no previous affiliation to the competition.

"Given the fact that Hotmail has been bought, that WhoWhere has been bought, it's ushering everyone else to a non-affiliated solution," said Mark Mooradian, an analyst at Jupiter Communications.