Netvibes, the French startpage near the top of the startpage market, is launching a new service this morning called Netvibes Premium Universes. The service allows companies to offer Netvibes functionality (reading feeds, posting widgets) on their own website with their own branding and domain. It's essentially a Netvibes page in an iframe on your website.
It's a great idea in theory, but I don't know how many companies will go for it. At launch the flagship customers include spam-factory Tagged.com and "the toolbar and content division of digital media company MIVA Inc." - they sell ads, including those despicable double-underline link ads. Fortunately two leading French newspapers, Les Echos and Le Figaro are part of the launch - without them you'd have to wonder why the product couldn't be sold to any legitimate businesses.
I love Netvibes; I use their basic service and their new mobile display all day long. Give me the feed for items I've tagged "toread" in Del.icio.us displayed on my Netvibes Mobile and I'm in heaven. I am concerned though that there may not be widespread interest in providing that kind of functionality on websites in the business world.
Netvibes needs to make money; apparently that's something that's a touch challenging for these startpage services. It doesn't have to be impossible, but I'm not sure this is the way to do it.
If you've got the reins on a business site that could use some startpage functionality, perhaps you should check out the new Netvibes Premium Universes. If they don't end up doing it well, and they probably will, then Pageflakes, YourMinis, MyYahoo! or iGoogle will. The only question I have is whether there will be meaningful demand in the enterprise world for a relatively lightweight product like a consumer level startpage. Enterprise Twitter seems more likely to me.