Background Note | HBS Case Collection | December 2000

Online Portals

by Thomas R. Eisenmann and Sanjay Pothen


Describes the online portal business model. Analyzes the model, focusing on the tactics used to acquire new users, turn new users into repeat visitors, and monetize user traffic. Explains portals' revenue and cost drivers and their implications for pursuing aggressive growth strategies. Finally, explores the challenges facing companies that aspire to develop portals for new online access technologies, such as wireless data and interactive television. To accompany teaching cases on online portals in courses on Internet strategies and e-commerce. Provides background on the online portal business model, and explains how it differs from other Internet business models. Examines the strategic choices that portals typically face. Also describes how portals can add value as consumers adopt emerging technologies, such as wireless data and interactive television.

Keywords: Business Model; Web Services Industry;


Eisenmann, Thomas R., and Sanjay Pothen. "Online Portals." Harvard Business School Background Note 801-305, December 2000.