Caught by the Web.
The Internet has quickly become an indispensible tool for the environmental movement, offering a cheap and effective way to exchange information and coordinate events among a wide audience. Now, some environmentalists are also seeing the Internet as a way to make money.
Portal sites are a starting point for exploring the World Wide Web. Basically search engines, they often come equipped with news, stock prices, chat and entertainment offerings to lure the electronic surfer. "Green" portals are similar, but also offer varying degrees of environmentally themed news, information, chat rooms and community features, along with products that promote a greener lifestyle.
The financial model is similar to that of television advertising. Users get to view the information on the site for free, and the expense is supposed to be covered by ads, which so far bring in more revenue than the sale of products. Some, like Environmental News Network, don't even have a store, offering only environmental news; revenue comes exclusively from advertising.
Though these sites are generally looking to turn a profit, many do make an effort to funnel your money towards the environment. A few, like Care2.org and Denali.com, actually give a portion of their revenue to selected environmental non-profits. By purchasing their products or even just by using their sites, you indirectly donate money to environmental causes. Other sites, like Naturalist.com, sell only environmentally friendly products and give environmental non-profits discounts on advertising.
As of now, the reality is that very few of these new sites, if any, are actually profitable yet. Internet columnist John Motavalli thinks it's "unlikely that these portal sites will get the advertising money necessary to be profitable"--unless they get large corporations involved. And even that is no guarantee. One seemingly deep-pocketed site, Verde.com, which had substantial financial backing from Ted Turner, just laid off its editorial and production staff and filed for bankruptcy.
The chance to take these startups public, a very real possibility until the recent NASDAQ market retreat, now appears to be receding, and with it the chance for a substantial infusion of working capital. But whether or not a stock option ever materializes, these portals still offer your hard-earned money the fast track to greener goods and services. Here's a quick overview of what's available in cyberspace.
RELATED ARTICLE: The Portals: Site by Site
COMPANY FINANCE NEWS Envirolink.org Non-profit. Compiles news, doesn't write any. Breaking news section. ENN.com For-profit. Produces own daily news; compiles world environmental news; posts press releases immediately. Care2.org Ten percent of all Basic world news REVENUE goes compilation; some to environmental focus on environmental non-profits. stories. Naturalist.com For-profit. Writes and compiles news; sorts by subjects; not very up to the minute. Denali.com Facilitates secure Compiles news from online donations to a wide variety of over 100 environmental sources, including nonprofits. E Magazine. Verde.com For-profit. World news from (Folded in June) Associated Press, plus staff-written stories. E-nature.com All profits go No. to National Audubon Society. COMPANY STORE PERKS Envirolink.org No, but links to Chatroom, bulletin environmentally board, loads of friendly Green links. Marketplace.com. ENN.com Sells only books Quizzes, chartroom, related to news. polls, forum, post cards. Care2.org Sells broad range of Green calendar, items, not all green living tips, environmentally e-cards. friendly. Naturalist.com Some. Extensive E-cards, job link, store is upcoming, trip planning, with information on calendar, ask an trips, gear, books, expert, impact etc. calculator. Denali.com Sales of environmental Environmental job books via Amazon.com links, e-cards, affiliation, outdoor quizzes, questions. gear through altrec.com. Verde.com Wide range of E-mail server, (Folded in June) environment friendly how-to-tips, quiz, products for home. personal green ratings. E-nature.com Only nature Updated star maps, guides. e-cards, electronic wildlife guides. COMPANY OVERALL Envirolink.org Lots of information available; not as flashy or easy to use as others. ENN.com CNN for environmentalists. Great for news, but not a true portal. Care2.org Basic search engine with environmental twist; aimed at "light green" consumers. Naturalist.com Under construction; well organized--may end up being most comprehensive. Denali.com Great graphics; easy to use; lots of advertising. A true "portal." Verde.com Broad based but lacked a (Folded in June) real focus; was easy to use. E-nature.com Wildlife focus; great source for nature information. Not really a "portal" site.
DAVID ROTHENBERG is editor of Terra Nova; HILLARY YOUNG is an editorial intern at E.
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|Title Annotation:||Ecology through the internet|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2000|
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