In the end, Go.com went.
The Walt Disney Co.s Jan. 29 announcement shutting down its entertainment portal ended an effort characterized by innovation, desperation and bad timing.
Go.coms failure was due to more than just soft advertising. "Its a combination of factors that led to a decision to close," said Disney spokeswoman Michelle Bergman. "Go functions differently from other sites."
For one, Go.com didnt have an offline partnership enjoyed by Disneys ABCNews.com and ESPN.com. It also suffered from an identity crisis — many users couldnt figure out exactly what Go was all about. Industry analysts said the name didnt help, nor did the green-light logo that looked so similar to GoTo.coms that Go was forced to stop using it.
"When you started getting strong brands in under Go . . . they werent thematically unified. Go didnt make a strong enough statement to control and ride the herd on other strong brands underneath," said Tom Kiersted, research manager at International Data Corp.
Some insiders said Disneys size made it too sluggish to run Go on Internet-time. "I never got the impression the top levels of the organization were going to play by different rules," said a former Disney executive.
Another problem: Disneys strength isnt in software and services, which are just as important as media when it comes to portals, the exec said.
When it launched in January 1999, Go was an all-purpose portal that competed with America Online and Yahoo! A year later, Go surrendered, partly because of its late arrival in the business, and announced it would devote itself solely to entertainment.
Nine months later, it had a new look and television advertisements, but viewers were still confused.
Now Disney is looking to sell both the sites traffic and its Infoseek search technology.
Analysts said Disney wont have an easy time unloading the once-beloved search engine.