The problem with portals is that they aren’t portals at all. The windows are nailed shut. They’re traps. They want to lure you in and then not let you leave. I said this in my Monday Guardian column (which I’ll put up then):
When Yahoo was young, cofounder Jerry Yang told me that his site’s job was to get you in and out as quickly as possible. That certainly changed. Now Yahoo licenses and creates content and services to keep you in front of its ads as long as possible; it is known for collecting and not sharing traffic. I say that Yahoo is the last old-media company – still trying to get viewers to come to it – but it is successful because it is unencumbered by presses, towers, talent contracts, and other media legacies.
The bald truth is that the deal, which we announced in November, garnered way more attention than we expected, but less traffic. A few new readers probably discovered Gawker, or one of the other four sites that we syndicated to Yahoo. I doubt many of them stayed. Yahoo has a mass audience; Gawker appeals to a peculiarly coastal, geeky and freaky demographic. And these people are more likely to come to our sites through word of mouth, or blog links, or search engine results, or Digg, not because of a traditional content syndication deal.
I go on to say in the Guardian column:
Contrast this with Google, which does still try to get you in and out quickly. It makes a fortune by putting targeted ads on many of the sites it sends you to. Thus its potential is unlimited, for the more content there is, the more Google has to organize, the more we need Google to find what we want, the more its ads can appear everywhere, and the more it earns. Yet Google still satisfies both traditional roles of the old networks in the content industry: It takes in money by aggregating audiences for advertisers, while it also pays out money to support content creators. Google is network 2.0.