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This story appears in the August 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

What's one of the fastest-growing Web phenomena right now? Portals, portals and more portals. We're not talking about mass-audience, consumer portals like Yahoo!, Excite, Snap and Lycos, mind you. No, these new portals are unique combinations of company intranets and extranets mixed with relevant data culled from the Web. They're 100 percent business-oriented and so customized and narrowly focused that most Web surfers will never see them--portals that only serve employees within a certain company, build relationships between suppliers and their customers, or provide fresh, informative gathering points for special-interest groups and trading partners.

Like Yahoo! and that ilk, these so-called enterprise information portals provide personalized launching points--the first Web pages you see after opening your browser--combining links to a company's internal information with links to selected content on the much more public Web. Within a company, for instance, each employee may set up his or her own portal page to provide daily industry news, links to competitors' Web sites, and a list of the latest sales reports and other important company documents--and maybe, down in the corner of the page, a snapshot of his or her personal stock portfolio and the latest weather and sports news.

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