Portals bulk up

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While portals dished out partnership distribution deals this year, they kept buying to get bigger and bigger.

* Yahoo! snatched up Broadcast.-com to offer users more streaming content and advertisers more rich-media ad options. It fattened its community offerings by swallowing GeoCities. Yahoo! also scored major marketing deals with News Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co.

* Excite brought the acquisition message home. Literally. Its Redwood City, Calif., neighbor, @Home, a broadband cable Internet access provider, bought Excite in May to form Excite@Home. The company ended the year with more than 1 million cable subscribers. Excite@Home closed the year by buying highly trafficked electronic greetings site Blue Mountain Arts for $780 million.

* Lycos, meanwhile, saw a potentially powerful deal with USA Networks slip through its fingers in May. The relationship would have merged Lycos with certain USA properties and Ticketmaster Online-Citysearch. Lycos stockholders, especially CMGI, which owns nearly 20% of the portal, saw the deal slanted in USA's favor. Lycos bounced back, buying games site Gamesville.com and financial site Quote.com.

* AltaVista started 1999 under the wing of ailing Compaq Computer Corp. The search engine, morphed into a full-fledged portal, ended '99 with Internet powerhouse CMGI owning a majority stake. AltaVista is spending $100 million on a campaign from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., to bring attention to the long-underleveraged brand.

* After a splashy launch campaign in January, Walt Disney Co.'s Go Network hit branding bumps. Go practically dissolved the Infoseek Corp. brand when it acquired the rest of the search service. Then GoTo.com, a search engine that sells its listings, sued Go Network (www.go.

com) to get the portal to stop using a traffic signal logo, which GoTo claimed was "confusingly similar" to its icon. Disney is appealing a November Los Angeles Circuit Court judge's ruling in favor of GoTo. Disney is conducting an agency review for Go.com for a $15 million campaign. Go figure.

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