Remember vortals from the dotcom hey days? For those who dont recognize the term, it stood for vertical portals – go after a particular target group, and provide range of services to them – our first business before we gravitated to jobsahead was a “vortal” called zipahead for Indian youth!

Well, the vortal is back. I was at the alwayson media conference in new york yesterday, and a lot of companies seem to be building destination sites for particular target groups. It begs an interesting question of what has changed, and will the outcomes be any different this time around. Three things that have changed massively in favor are:

  • Critical mass of users on fairly targeted groups
  • Growth of online advertising to support such models
  • Maturity of community capabilities on the web

What has not changed though, is the difficulty of creating truly great content at one place, when the user has a choice to get best of breed content at different locations. In my view, that remains the single biggest challenge for such sites. So a college goer may use different sites for his academics need, versus dating, versus sports, and so on. The new model of aggregation of web content adds another dimension to these sites – they now have an opportunity to aggregate best of breed content, as well as syndicate out to wherever the user is (a la facebook). In some sense, the battle for the vortal is really a battle for the homepage.

Any thoughts on how you see this evolving?