Bertelsmann, Lycos Expand European Presence

Like many invading armies before it, Tripod — a Williamstown, Massachusetts-based Web community owned by Lycos — has set its sights on Europe, and apparently will not be content until its presence stretches from the Mediterranean to the English Channel.

Wednesday, the company announced that German media giant, Bertelsmann AG, its joint-partner in Tripod Europe, has committed $12 million (US$) to expand the company’s reach into several more European countries.

Called by many the fastest-growing and most-visited online community in Europe by Lycos, Tripod currently has dedicated sites in local languages in Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and France. The company will take its expansion to six other European countries where Lycos Europe has a presence.

“With specialized features such as localized content and e-commerce opportunities, Tripod Europe successfully responded to the needs of the different European countries,” said Tripod Europe President, Frank Mars. “By catering to this continent’s wide variety of interests and cultures, Tripod will continue its successful expansion throughout Europe.”

Country-Specific Content

Tripod’s success in Europe — which the company co-founder Bo Peabody said has exceeded full-year expectations in just six months — can be traced to its rich, member-created content, it says. In addition to its interactive chat rooms, and interest-specific communities known as “pods,” Tripod specializes in offering home page building tools, templates, image galleries and file management systems.

The site is also one of the first online communities in Europe to offer e-commerce capabilities. Quixell, Europe’s popular online auction, is available to its members and the company says it intends to roll out more e-commerce features shortly.

Lycos says that Tripod Europe has experienced a 70 percent average monthly growth rate since its launch in October 1998 and registered membership has jumped to 450,000.

In related news, Lycos announced Wednesday that it has chosen Idiom WorldServer to assist it in building Tripod’s expansion across Europe. Idiom WorldServer’s technology will enable Tripod to leverage its home page building engine and tools across multiple sites while tailoring each site to a specific region, the company said.

Founded in the Berkshire Mountains village of Williamstown in 1995, Tripod has expanded rapidly since then, particularly after Lycos bought the site in February 1998. It currently has 3.6 million members worldwide.

Bertelsmann’s $12 million investment is but a drop in the bucket for a global media conglomerate that books some $18 billion in revenues each year. The world’s third-largest media company, Bertelsmann has over 600 companies in all spectrums of media — including publishing, music, radio, newspapers, TV and the Internet — and employs 60,000 people in 53 countries.

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