Lycos Stakes Claim to Asia With $50 Million Joint Venture

Lycos, Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS) announced today that it has formed a $50 million (US$) joint venture with Singapore’s national telecommunications company to develop local portal sites in 10 Asian markets. The move is the latest in an aggressive international expansion plan.

The Waltham, Massachusetts-based company said that it expects to roll out sites in Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and India later this year, giving it a firm foothold in the burgeoning Asian market.

Lycos spokeswoman Michelle Perry told the E-Commerce Times that the company has to determine the other four markets.

In addition to the standard portal features, each site will come equipped with local content in the principal language of the local market. The terms of the agreement also call for Singapore Telecom (SingTel) and Lycos Asia to jointly deliver localized versions of Tripod, Lycos’ online community. Tripod is rapidly gaining new members in Europe and the U.S.

Joint Ventures

Perry added that Singapore Telecom will provide the day-to-day operations of the sites. The agreement capped a year in which Lycos also launched joint venture sites in Japan and Korea.

Lycos’ CEO says that the agreement brings the company several steps closer to achieving its goal of having a worldwide presence.

“By teaming with SingTel, a communications giant in Asia, Lycos dramatically strengthens its position in bringing our content to 24 markets around the world,” said Bob Davis, Lycos CEO. “Our model of forming joint ventures with industry leaders in various regions allows Lycos to combine its technical and product development expertise with the best customized content to deliver an exceptional user experience.”

First Asia, Then Latin America

Perry said that the company intends to develop sites later this year in select Latin American markets by following its proven model of teaming up with local companies to deliver localized content.

Already the world’s largest online community, Lycos is obviously planning on getting larger. The company cited a report that the Asia Pacific Internet market is expected to grow from 20 million users in 1999 to 60 million in 2003, while e-commerce spending is predicted to leap from $148 million in 1997 to $35 billion in 2002.

Those figures exclude China, which some forecast will add 16 million users and nearly $4 billion in e-commerce revenues by 2003.

On the other side of the world, Lycos’ Tripod site has become the top community site in Europe, signing up some 600,000 users in less than 10 months. Lycos’ joint venture agreement with German media giant Bertelsmann includes localized content sites in 11 European countries.

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