Time Warner ( TWX) wants to revive the once-mighty Netscape brand. Time Warner's America Online service, whose new
In2Tv service is trying to attract people to vintage television shows, plans to resurrect Netscape, one of the most recognized Web brands from the early days of the Internet boon. The service is going to be relaunched as a social-networking site similar to Digg , which lets people share news articles, according to PaidContent.Org , a site that tracks online media business. The new Netscape will be headed by Jason Calacanis, whose Weblogs Inc. business was acquired by New York-based Time Warner last year. Time Warner has laid off Netscape workers ahead of the Calacanis takeover, according to the gossip blog Valleywag , which previously reported details of Time Warner's plans. Time Warner declined to comment. Calacanis didn't immediately respond to an email. Before it was acquired by Time Warner in 1999, Netscape waged a highly public and ultimately futile battle to provide an alternative browser to Microsoft ( MSFT) and its Internet Explorer. That fight was a central issue in the Microsoft antitrust trial. Netscape only has a fraction of the users that it once enjoyed, though its browser still comes preloaded on Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) computers. It also has a portal featuring articles on news, sports and entertainment. "Netscape has some residual credibility among the geeks," says Nick Denton, the head of Valleywag's parent Gawker Media, whose other blogs include Gawker, Defamer and Wonkette. "Calacanis understands that audience, and he's energetic. Also, what's to lose? Netscape is languishing. They might as well let Calacanis shake things up." Calacanis deserves at least some of the credit for the growing popularity of blogs and their offshoots. His company's blogs are some of the the most popular on the Web, such as Endgadget , which focuses on technology news, and the television-fan journal TV Squad .
Internet and media companies want to cash in on the exploding popularity of social-networking sites, including
MySpace , which News Corp. ( NWS) bought for $585 million last year. "The new poster child for Internet success is My Space," says Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and Public Life Project. "With the rise of broadband, particularly in the American internet market, it's just easier now for people to access this material, as well as create it and share it." About 13% of U.S. adult Internet users have created a blog, according to a survey by Rainie's organization. That's up from 6% in January. In addition, the number of people who read blogs rose from 27% to 39%.