By Rachel Chalmers
Sunnyvale, California-based search engine company Infoseek Corp has published a beta version of its Go Network, the brainchild of a complicated joint venture with the Walt Disney Company. Good luck trying to get a look at it. Apparently overwhelmed by hits, the site was inaccessible for most of Monday. When it finally yielded its secrets an hour before deadline, Go.com looked eerily like another Infoseek. In fact, the Go Network is the umbrella for a rather motley collection of web sites. The deal which created it was designed to leapfrog Infoseek past its web portal rivals, Yahoo, Excite and America OnLine. The secret weapons are Disney’s deep pockets and its almost unparalleled ability to leverage brands. The fact that the complex agreement is structured to leave most of the risk in Infoseek’s lap has not passed unnoticed (CI No 3,524). What the search engine gets in return for the exposure is the right to link the web sites for ABC, ABC News, Disney, ESPN, Family.com, Mr Showbiz and others to its own content, and in true Disney fashion, to cross-promote them all to within an inch of their lives. Tabs at the top of the page are designed to help users navigate their way through the different content areas in a more efficient manner than is possible at other sites, the companies claim. The personalization features of the site are similarly in-your-face. Notable by their absence are ads for adult content. Go is a family site, and users will have the option to install content filters. This is the first fruit of an alliance that combines deeper and broader assets in technology, innovative design, brand equity and marketing and promotion than any other entity on the internet, explained Infoseek CEO Harry Motro in a statement. It’s our first major milestone and we invite our users to help us make it even better. The beta site includes feedback and contact links on every search results page. Based in part on any feedback it might generate, the company plans to roll new features into the site during the beta period. The official launch is slated for early 1999. It had better be spectacular. CNN notes that AOL’s current stock price values the company at the worth of Disney and Time Warner combined.