Pathfinder (Time Warner)

Wikipedia 🌐 Pathfinder (website)

Saved Wikipedia (Jan 18, 2020) : Pathfinder (website)


Type of site

Web portal

Available in



Time Inc. (Time Warner)



1994; 27 years ago

Current status

Closed in April 1999

(redirects to '')

Pathfinder was a landing page with links to various Time Inc. websites. In its initial form, Pathfinder was one of the first Internet portals, created as Time Warner's entry onto the Internet. The objective of Pathfinder was to be an all-encompassing site that brought the best content from all of Time Warner under one banner.


The site opened on October 24, 1994,[1] with a small content team led by James Kinsella, Bruce Judson, Craig Bromberg, Oliver Knowlton, and Curt Viebranz.[2] [3]The team grew rapidly to service a growing list of internal "content partners" - at its highest point, these "content partners" numbered 80. Most of these content partners were Time Inc. magazines such as Time, People, Fortune and others, but others came from the widely distributed Time Warner corporate empire. was controversial within Time Warner. Many content partners were unhappy with the fact Pathfinder's existence prevented them from using their own URLs. For example, People Magazine was not allowed to use the domain "," but was instead restricted to a directory on Pathfinder ( Pathfinder's own staff were shocked when Time Inc. senior manager Don Logan publicly derided at an external analyst's meeting as a "black hole" of unprofitability.

Pathfinder went through many managers and editors in its short life, and suffered from high staff turnover rates, especially after it became clear to many that its future was highly uncertain. Many early tech journalists and writers passed through its doors, including Walter Isaacson, James Kinsella (MSNBC), Daniel Okrent, John R. Quain (CBS News Up to the Minute and J-Q on Technology), John Voelcker (, Josh Quittner, Lev Grossman, Maura Johnston and Steven Petrow.

The site was closed in April 1999, and was widely considered to be an expensive failure. Some claim that Pathfinder cost Time Inc. between $100 and $120 million.

Some analysts believe that Pathfinder's failure led Time Warner's senior managers to conclude that it was impossible to run a successful Internet portal, and this judgement led directly to Time Warner pursuing its eventual merger with AOL, a merger which unsuccessfully sought to generate "synergy" between the two corporate giants. transitioned to a landing page, with links to Time Inc.'s other sites.[4]


  1. ^ "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Time Inc. Raises Its Multimedia Profile With an Internet Test, The New York Times, October 24, 1994".

  2. ^ Kalakota, Ravi (1997). Electronic Commerce and Online Publishing. Internet Archive. Addison-Wesley Professional. p. 269. james kinsella pathfinder.

  3. ^ John., Motavalli (2004) [2002]. Bamboozled at the revolution : how big media lost billions in the battle for the Internet. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0142002895. OCLC 55017340.

  4. ^ Time Warner to shutter Pathfinder Cnet News, April 26, 1999

External links[edit]

1996 (March 01) - Wired magazine - "Time's Pathfinder"


At a time when scores of top journalists are bailing out of traditional media and leaping on thedigital train, Walter Isaacson is one of the few who can say, "Been there, done that." A Rhodesscholar, Isaacson established a career in newspapers before joining Time magazine in 1978,where he worked his way up […]

__ AT A time when scores of top journalists are bailing out of traditional media and leaping on the digital train, WalterIsaacson is one of the few who can say, "Been there, done that." A Rhodes scholar, Isaacson established a career innewspapers before joining Time magazine in 1978, where he worked his way up to assistant managing editor. His well-received 1992 book Kissinger: A Biography was adapted for a cable-TV movie. In 1993, he left Time to become editor ofTime Warner's New Media business. That didn't last long. We caught up with Isaacson on his final Friday afternoon wayup on the executive's floor of the Time & Life building in New York. He was tossing out papers and other leftovers fromhis two-year New Media stint. Come Monday morning, he was to report 10 floors below as Time's new managing editor.__

Wired: You got a round-trip ticket to the world of digital media. Now that the trip's over, I'm guessing you're glad to begoing home.


: I'm not getting away from new media. Time has got to be on the forefront of the digital revolution.

Your Kissinger book shows a lot of personal style; it's written with a strong voice and a sharp point of view. But evensome of Time's writers have said the magazine muddies their point of view, kills opinions, and panders to the lowestcommon denominator. Lack of opinion and pandering do not win in the digital age. Do you aim to tackle these problemsas managing editor?

Time has to be a sharply intelligent magazine, with analysis and opinions based on common sense, not politicalprejudices. I'm in the process of hiring writers who have sharp voices and editors who know how to encourage analysis.Avoiding the muddle of group journalism is also a challenge. And it's going to be a high priority. I'm eliminating a layer ofediting. Most front-of-the-book news stories will now have just one editor.

As a journalist, how do you view the fact that Time Warner may be getting too big to be understood?

Now that I've moved to Time, I view Time Warner as a news story that I'm going to cover, not as a company I speak for.Time covered the Turner deal in a cold and sharp way. And its coverage of the Warner Music rap lyrics controversy wastough as well.

Is there a danger that Time Warner will treat you as just another business? Are you wary of media concentration in yourown back yard?

All media are becoming more diverse; and the Net assures that concentration is the least of all worries. There is nomonopoly on voice. And we at Time are very well shielded from interference from the business side of the company.Time is very healthy economically and journalistically.

What did you think of Time's coverage of the "porn on the Net" issue, where the magazine based a rather sensationalcover story on an erroneous study?

The method of the study was flawed and should have been put into better perspective.

What is the role of a general-interest weekly in a country glutted with news - one that will soon have up to four 24-hourcable news channels?

When Henry Luce invented the news magazine, his prospectus said: "At a time when people are being bombarded dailywith more and more headlines and more and more information, they are, ironically, becoming less informed." That's evenmore true in the digital age. When you're swamped with information and you have 1,000 different sources for each pieceof data, you look to certain brand names and a certain type of journalism you trust to make sense of it, to be yourintelligent agent, to sort it out.

What was the original vision behind Pathfinder, and is it succeeding?Pathf

Pathfinder began as an umbrella for a variety of Web services we wanted to create. In the end, what we have is just likePathfwhat's in any of the popular online services: a great package of material put together in a coherent way, with old and newbrand names. The big difference is that it happens to be on the Web rather than on some proprietary technology.

With 60 to 70 employees, is Pathfinder's cost structure too cumbersome for a start-up? Will there be a break-even pointPathfany time soon?

It's easy to see how these services will make money. Already, there are lots of advertising dollars. But I believe we notonly can but should create premium services that users will pay to use. If you are not creating a product users value, thenyou're not creating any value.

Let's talk about Time Warner's interactive TV service in Orlando. I went down there (see "People Are Supposed to Pay forThis Stuff?"Wired, 3.07) and concluded that people don't really want to interact with their TV in a meaningful way.

We're a content company at heart. It doesn't matter to me if the content is used on a TV, a PC, a toaster oven, or apersonal digital assistant.

Why did you take the New Media job in the first place?

The digital revolution offers the most exciting chall- enge to journalism since the invention of television. Because sincethen, everything has been broadcast. Now it's no longer mass media; it's personal.

What specifically are you doing to make sure that Time leads this digital revolution in journalism?

You'll see Time working on new projects that will provide daily, up-to-the-minute journalism using the Net as amechanism. On Pathfinder and in the news area on CompuServe, it won't be just the magazine dumped online everyPathfSunday night. You'll see Time Daily use wire feeds and news analysis from our reporters. We're hiring additional peopleto do that.

Isn't it true that paper, to journalists, is more prestigious than bits?

Online journalism is in its infancy. We started doing it at Time Warner three years ago. We started printing the magazine73 years ago. I assume it won't take another 70 years for digital journalism to have the same impact.