Lycos Continues Japanese Push, Raises $32M

Less than a week after launching a localized Tripod online community site in Japan, Internet network Lycos, Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS) announced that it has raised $32 million (US$) from a major Japanese media company.

The Waltham, Massachusetts-based network said that Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co. Ltd. invested in the Lycos Japan venture and became a partner. It joins the $100 billion trading company Sumitomo Corp. and Internet Initiative Japan as partners with Lycos in the venture.

Lycos Japan was launched in 1998 and has since become one of the more popular portals in the country, rivaling Yahoo! Japan and other online joint ventures formed by the Internet’s largest portals.

The launch of Tripod Japan complements its launch in Korea in September. There, the 50/50 joint venture with the Mirae Corporation produced 80,000 Tripod Korea members in 10 days, as well as a flagship Lycos Korea site. The company said that Tripod Japan has registered 10,000 members in its first four days online.

“With the launch of Tripod Japan and the addition of Kadokawa — a cutting edge Japanese media company — to the partnership, Lycos Japan is now uniquely positioned to lead the market,” said Lycos CEO Bob Davis.

A Worldwide Perspective

Lycos bought the Williamstown, Massachusetts-based Tripod for $58 million back in February of last year. A community site that offers home page publishing tools, hosting services and community chat rooms, Tripod has outshone even the brightest of Lycos’ expectations.

The site now has over four million registered users worldwide, and has 16 localized sites spreading from Japan to Holland to Peru. It is the top community site in Europe, where 600,000 people have signed up as members in less than 10 months.

Lycos has even bigger plans for the site. In September, the company announced a $50 million joint venture with Singapore Telecom that will produce Lycos and Tripod sites in 10 Asian countries. Localized sites in China, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, India and Hong Kong are expected to be online by year’s end.

The flurry of international ventures has become commonplace for Lycos, which has quickly become one of the most visited networks on the Web.

Founded in 1995, Lycos produced revenues of $135 million last fiscal year, and in the fourth quarter booked an operating profit of $600,000 — a first for the company.

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