Companies bow new Web portal

The Walt Disney Co. and Infoseek on Monday gave an early go to their new Internet portal by launching a test version of their Go Network search engine, skedded to officially launch next year.

Similar to most Internet search engines, the “beta” version of the Go Network (www.go.com) includes news, stock quotes, chat rooms, sports scores, e-commerce links, horoscopes, Internet search features and connections to other sites.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Infoseek says it has tweaked the standard Internet portal model to deliver better search results, and to make it easier for users to travel back and forth between Web pages.

According to Infoseek, the beta is intended to offer users an opportunity to explore the site and offer input to the company about how to improve the service. New features will be rolled into the site during the testing period.

But outside observers seem less interested in these improvements than they are in the Disney name. Along with promoting Go Network to the outside world, Disney will be able to steer millions of visitors from its other Web ventures, including ESPN, ABC News, Mr. Showbiz, onto Go.com.

“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,” said Harry Motro, prexy and CEO of Infoseek. “It’s our first major milestone, and we invite our users to help us make it even better.”

Shares of Infoseek short circuited with other tech stocks, dropping $2.69 to close at $41.19 on Monday. Disney fell $1.38, closing at $30.63.

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