GAY.com SAYS SEVERAL MEDIA INVESTORS INTERESTED

By: Karim Mostafa

Portal Attracts Dollars, Content, Technology



As reported here last week, Times Co. Digital (TCD) is backing Online
Partner’s Gay.com with money, technology, and content. The San
Francisco-based Online Partners.com Inc. says several media companies
were interested in a partnership.



‘Several media companies wanted to participate,’ says Mark Elderkin,
co-founder, president, and chief operating officer of Online Partners.
‘But we chose the [New York] Times.’



The New York Times Co.’s new-media unit was one of many participants in
Online Partners’ latest round of funding which was oversubscribed at
$23 million. Other investors in the San Francisco-based company
included Flatiron Partners, Chase Capital Partners, Chase Capital
Partners Europe, Macluan Digital Partners, Baroda Ventures,
Jesse.Hansen.CoVe, and IDG Ventures.



Why all the interest? Gay.com is considered a leading portal for the
gay and lesbian community, which some surveys indicate is more wired
than the general population. The site had fewer unique visitors than
other affinity portals like ivillage.com, talkcity.com, and women.com,
but had users who returned more often for longer stays online,
according to Media Metrix of New York.



Affinity Portals (January)



Site Visitors (000s) Average Average

usage usage

Days minutes



Gay.com 376 4.4 31.5

iVillage sites 4,997 1.8 20.6

Talkcity.com 2,361 1.6 15.5

Women.com 2,049 1.8 8.3



Source: Media Metrix



Beyond investing an undisclosed amount in the portal, TCD is providing
newsfeeds, headlines, restaurant reviews, book and film reviews from
nytimes.com, wine reviews from winetoday.com, and access to content
from other TCD properties such as nytoday.com and boston.com, Elderkin
says. There will also be e-mail newsletters and discussions on stories
that merit message boards. And there will be no lag time for Times
stories before they appear on Gay.com, according to Elderkin. TCD did
not respond to a request for an interview.



On the technology side, Gay.com gets a co-branded site with gay and
lesbian discussion groups powered by TCD’s Abuzz.com, Elderkin says.
Abuzz.com will not offer this service to any other gay sites, Elderkin
says. In the meantime, Gay.com will continue to maintain its own chats
and discussions.


The Times’ international audience was another attraction for Gay.com in
its final decision on media partners. Elderkin hopes to attract a
global audience to gay.com.


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Karim Mostafa (kmostafa@editorandpublisher.com ) is assistant editor
for Editor & Publisher Online.













(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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