Trio Hoping to Take Internet in New iDirections

Three Internet veterans with experience at Microsoft Corp., Apple Computer Inc., Pointcast and American Digital Network are hoping to revolutionize personal Internet use with the launch of iDirections.com, a combination of free services, electronic commerce, content and community features.

Despite claims that iDirections will “change the way people experience the Web,” the company is offering few specifics. The group, led by Frank Stanbach, Bruce Keiser and Dan Hoffman, is “operating in stealth mode,” with plans to announce details of its project later this month.

“We believe that every individual should have their own personal portal or destination with self-generated content and a permanent and personalized domain name,” Hoffman says. Kaiser added that the trio has “a single vision: To restore the spirit of the Internet by empowering people to choose the online experience they desire.”

Personal Jumping-off Point

According to the iDirections.com Web site, the patent pending “Personal Portal” service will enable “individuals and businesses to brand themselves” by creating a permanent web presence anchored to a personalized domain name. People will be able to easily create their own start page from which they can explore the Internet.

Similar but less comprehensive services are already offered by major Web portals such as MyExcite.com and the Microsoft Network. However, iDirections.com says it will take the portal a step further, allowing users to put free services such as e-mail, Web sites and chat functions together with general content such as news, stock quotes, weather and sports. In addition, users will be able to create links to their favorite shopping destinations and e-commerce services, and iDirections.com will provide “the deeper, richer content that only the more vertically focused, special interest and enthusiast portals can provide.”

The Personal Portal “is not just a filtered content site like a megaportal, but is capable of both inward and outward communication,” the company says on its Web site. “You can start your web experience, and spend more time there, sharing interests and news stories, chatting with friends and associates, shopping, collaborating on a project or just having fun!”

The logistics of the enterprise remain unclear. The company says it has quietly lined up a first round of venture capital from several Silicon Valley sources and has forged partnerships with MelbourneIT, CriticalPath Software, InfoSpace.com and Exodus to launch the service.

About the Partners

Melbourne IT, owned by the University of Melbourne, is a domain name registration company. Critical Path is a software development firm that has worked with Apple Computer, Canon, Inc., Nike and others. InfoSpace.com is an Internet search site and portal that can be personalized to display a user’s preferred news and information services. Exodus provides Internet and network management systems for online companies.

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