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Lycos To Buy WhoWhere

Lycos Inc. said Tuesday it will pay $133 million in stock for WhoWhere? Inc., which provides Web-based personal and business directory services and free e-mail. Who Where? also operates angelfire.com, a Web community offering free home pages. Lycos says the addition of WhoWhere's sites raises to 31 percent the reach of its network of sites, based on data in the June report from Media Metrix, a market research company.

Lycos said the acquisition of WhoWhere fits into its community focus, which began earlier in the year with the purchase of Tripod. Since then, Tripod has nearly doubled to 1.8 million registered members. With the addition of Angelfire, Lycos said it owns two of the top three community sites. The Lycos announcement comes on the same day Web-community company GeoCities Inc. was scheduled to make its U.S. stock market debut.

"A strong online community is essential to providing visitors with a rich Web experience and is a key differentiator of our network,"said Lycos president Bob Davis. "We expect our community foundation will continue to drive extraordinary user loyalty and growth, making us the first choice for advertisers and commerce partners."

WhoWhere will continue to operate from its Mountain View, Calif., office as a business unit of Lycos. Former WhoWhere CEO Dale Fuller is now a Lycos vice president and general manager of the WhoWhere division.

In other Internet news:

  • Web sites Angelfire.com, Xoom.com and Preferences.com were the three fastest growing Web sites in the first six months of the year, Media Metrix Inc. says. Each of the top three companies operate sites in the category "personal expression," offering users free home pages, chat, e-mail and instant messaging. The Internet market researcher ranks the sites based on "reach point increase". That's a measure of "unique visitors" or "unduplicated audience," and it's expressed as a percentage of Web users.
  • Citicorp has agreed to become the principal sponsor of the personal finance channel on Netcenter, the portal site being developed by Netscape Communications Corp. People familiar with the arrangement said the banking company will pay Netscape $40 million as a minimum guarantee for new customers the bank expects to attract, The Wall Street Journal reported.

    Citibank will offer financial services including stock trading, bank accounts, mortgages and insurance. The term of the non-exclusive agreement was not revealed. Citicorp's director of global electronic commerce, Josh Grotstein, said the Netcenter deal is valuable because "We think of these portals as the networks of the future, and an important part of reaching our goal of getting to one billion customers."

    The deal is also significant to Netscape because "It gives us credibility in that the big companies think this medium is important to their future," said Netscape Netcenter general manager Mike Homer.

    Written By Frank Barnako