Lee Gomes makes huge mistake in today's WSJ–I think a correction is in order.

Lee Gomes says that the new Netscape is a failure today in the WSJ because the stats show a 38% 28% decline in usage since the change. Lee says that when we made the change users voted and “When they voted, it was with their feet.”

100% wrong.

What Lee leaves out is that AOL moved the Netscape email off of the Netcape.com domain at the same exact time of the launch and that the email users were exactly 35-40% of the usage at Netscape.com.

If you take out that fact Netscape’s traffic is actually up. Additionally, we lose the browser bundle deals (HP, etc), and those were +10% of the traffic.

Add to that fact that Netscape was losing traffic for three straight years and you are left with that fact that the new site stopped the three year slide almost INSTANTLY… and started growing the traffic!

Lee Gnomes could have easily found this out if a) he contacted me or b) AOL told him this. I’m not sure why the AOL representative didn’t tell him this, or why Lee didn’t contact me (we’ve traded emails over and over), however a major correction is in order.

In addition, I would point out that the Netscape brand’s traffic was based primarily on four things before I came to it:

  • a) the old browser and the small percentage of users who didn’t know how to change the default home page of their browser
  • b) users who had an email address at Netscape and didn’t want to change it
  • c) users who had a My.Netscape page and didn’t want to change it
  • d) Netscape browser bundle deals that are now over (with HP and others)

In other words, the users who were coming to Netscape were users “left over” from the Netscape glory days. Netscape never really had an opt-in portal business–they had an accidental portal business based on the default home page. Not unlike Microsoft, who’s portal is based on their default home page, hotmail email users, and their dialup subscribers to MSN–and unlike Google and Yahoo which earn their users straight up.

The users at Netscape were–and still are–great loyal users of the brand, but Netscape did nothing but lose users for the past three or four years. I took the plane over when it was in a tail spin and speeding towards the ground. In four short months my team built a new concept that got the plane under control and it’s now climbing again to a nice cruising altitude.

Mission frackin’ accomplished!

Was it shocking for some folks? Of course, but the business smashing into the ground at 700 MPH would have a been a lot more painful.