Lycos Targets Latin Markets On Two Continents

Online community Lycos, Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS) added to its already-formidable international presence today by announcing the launch of 12 sites in Latin America and two Spanish-speaking sites in the U.S.

The Waltham, Massachusetts-based company launched localized content sites in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile and Venezuela. It also launched localized content sites for Tripod, its online community, in each of the six countries.

Additionally, the company took aim at the 31 million-strong Spanish-speaking U.S. market with the launch of Lycos en Espanol and Tripod Americas.

Lycos CEO Bob Davis said that the twin-pronged launch addresses the need of a growing market and underscores Lycos’ strategy of providing localized content in far-flung areas of the world.

“Latin America is poised to become the next great growth center for Internet services,” Davis said. “In the U.S., the Spanish-speaking population is the fastest growing population segment. We are now positioned to meet the demand of these high-growth markets with the launch today of 14 targeted sites in Spanish and Portuguese.”

The Portuguese-language sites are slated for Brazil, where it is the predominant language.

From Sea to Shining Sea

Lycos said that the launch of the 12 sites in six Latin American countries gives it exposure to 80 percent of the population of the region. The sites will include sports, news, finance and business, search capabilities and directories. The company said that it has forged content alliances with a number of Latin American outlets and will continue to seek more.

International Data Corp. predicts that the Latin Americane-commerce market will soar from $240 million (US$) in revenue in 1998 to $8 billion by 2003, with Internet users increasing from 4.8 million users to 19.1 million. Internet industry executives also eye the Spanish-speaking U.S. market with a high degree of optimism.

The surge has already been anticipated by Latin American-based sites like El Sitio and some of Lycos’ U.S. based competitors. However, the company has clearly decided in recent months that it will commit a large part of its resources to capturing an international toehold.

Tripod is growing by leaps and bounds in Europe — topping 600,000 in memberships in 10 months — and registered 80,000 members in its first 10 days in Korea, the company said.

Lycos also has 11 sites in Europe in a joint venture with German media giant Bertelsmann, a joint venture agreement in Japan with the Sumitomo Corporation, in Korea with the Mirae Corporation, and recently announced a joint venture with Singapore Telecom to launch localized sites in 10 Asian markets.

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