IWon.com poised to complete transition of Excite.com services

Friday, December 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ IWon.com, a popular Web site that attracts traffic by awarding daily jackpots, is poised to cash in on its recent takeover of Excite.com, a multipurpose online service salvaged from one of the Internet's biggest bankruptcies.

The transition to a new era in Excite.com's six-year history is essentially complete, iWon said Thursday.

Virtually all the old Excite.com features, including stock quotes, movie listings and news reports, have been re-created by a team of 110 iWon engineers who have been working on the project since early October, the Irvington, N.Y., company said.

The final phase of the changeover will occur between now and New Year's Day as iWon transfers between 250 million and 400 million e-mails stored for Excite's registered users to new computers.

``I wouldn't wish the events of the past 18 months on anyone, but if that's what we had to go through to get this deal done, then I guess it's worth it,'' iWon founder and co-CEO Bill Daugherty said Thursday.

Excite.com, founded in 1995 just as the Web began to attract a mass audience, became available as part of the September bankruptcy of its former parent, Redwood City-based ExciteAtHome, which operated the nation's biggest cable network for Internet access.

IWon acquired the rights to Excite.com through Bellevue, Wash.-based InfoSpace Inc., which bought the Web site last month for $10 million, a staggering discount from the portal's $6.7 billion sales price in 1999. IWon gave away $10 million _ its biggest jackpot of the year _ on one day in April to mark the annual deadline for filing income taxes.

With the addition of Excite, iWon will run an online network that ranks among the most popular on the Web, based on November ratings complied by Jupiter Media Metrix, an online research firm.

Excite.com's sites attracted 20.7 million unique visitors last month _ the 14th most on the Web _ while iWon ranked 26th with 11 million unique visitors, Jupiter Media Metrix said.

The combined traffic of Excite and iWon would have ranked the network sixth in November. About 10 percent of the traffic visits both sites, Daugherty estimated.

With the takeover, iWon is changing its corporate identity to The Excite Network, although iWon.com will continue to exist as a separate Web site.