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Time Warner pulls magazine-rich Pathfinder Web site

SHARE Time Warner pulls magazine-rich Pathfinder Web site

NEW YORK -- Time Warner Inc.'s Pathfinder site will be shut down after Internet users increasingly chose other ways to reach the online magazines it featured.

Launched in 1994, before the World Wide Web was a household name, the Pathfinder site was heralded by Time Warner as an easy-to-use gateway to its magazine trove.But as Web sites became more user-friendly and useful, Pathfinder struggled for relevance. Time Warner never adequately promoted the site, analysts said. Today, almost all the company's Web traffic flows through sites such as Money.com and Time.com.

Instead of helping Time Warner's online image, Pathfinder, with its sagging traffic, began to have an opposite effect, said Melissa Bane, an analyst with the Yankee Group in Boston, a research firm.

"It began being used by the industry as an example of how not to do it. People pointed to Pathfinder and said it hadn't taken off," Bane said. "It's kind of been an albatross around Time Warner's neck."

Time Warner played down the move Monday, saying the site's demise was a natural evolution as Internet users chose to go directly to online magazines. The site will be closed in a few months, company spokesman said. The time is needed for technicians to change Web addresses to remove the Pathfinder designation.

"That seems to be the way consumers like to get their information, by going to a particular brand site," said Peter Costiglio, a Time Warner spokesman.

"More and more of our promotion is in support of the individual sites and that will certainly continue," he said.

The jury is still out on consumer interest in all-in-one gateways to a media company's brand names. Walt Disney Co., for example, continues to heavily promote its Go Network as a gateway to the media conglomerate's properties, ranging from ABC.com to ESPN SportsZone.