When Women's Wire launched on the Web in August 1995, it was the only show in town.
Testament to that is the fact that the URL, "www.women.com," was theirs for the taking.
A lot has changed since then. Nowadays companies, which are increasingly launching sites catering to women, would probably pay a pretty penny for that address, hoping to lure a segment of what is widely considered to be one of the hottest markets around: women.
But Women's Wire isn't about to give it up. Today, Wire Networks, which publishes Women's Wire, launched a new front door to present its Web properties, using the URL "www.women.com." Surfers who had punched it in their browsers previously would have landed at the Women's Wire site. But now they will find themselves at a front door set up to showcase all the Wire Networks properties, including the online magazine, the Web surfing site, Beatrice's Web Guide, and its health site, Healthy Ideas.
Ellen Pack, vice president and founder of Wire Networks, said that as the company has grown and added more sites, it made sense to launch a centralized home.
But the concept also makes sense from a competitive point of view.
Two years ago when Pack helped launch Women's Wire, "A lot of people told me, 'You're crazy. Women don't use computers. Women don't go on the Web.'"
Today, those people are probably wondering how they can launch their own sites aimed at women.
"Now you see all the reports where you see women are the fastest-growing segment on the Web," Pack said. "A number of people woke up and said, 'Oh, we could create a site for women.'"
A Jupiter Communications study predicted that by the year 2002, for instance, 45.1 percent of the online population will be female, compared to 39 percent in 1997. That's a lot of women--and a lot of people want to reach them.
Pack said she's not worried about the competition. In fact, she said the company welcomes it.
"I think that having more services and more content for women is a great thing," she said.
But, she added, "I think you're going to see a shake-out. What you're seeing now is a surge. I think we have this advantage. We've been doing it a long time. We have a solid critical mass."