Terra Lycos dot-com to keep Miami HQ after recent merger
By Sherri C. Ranta
Terra Lycos, a global Internet network claiming a large share of the US Hispanic market, is keeping its Latin American headquarters and base for US operations in Miami, company officials say.
Speculation that operations could shift northward after a merger last October was common. But Terra.com US General Manager Manuel Bellod said while some positions may shift, the company is committed to staying in Miami.
While promoting the launch of three new services at the dot-com, Mr. Bellod said his company is a global Internet giant operating in 41 counties and 19 languages at 122 brand-name sites with about 94 million "unique visits" each month.
The softening of the US economy will not dramatically affect Terra Lycos, Mr. Bellod said, because the company has a diverse portfolio of products and revenue streams.
He said Terra Lycos is one of the globe's most capitalized Internet companies, with $2.4 billion in cash reserves. About 38% of Terra.com stock, he said, is owned by Telefonica, the largest telecommunications firm in Spain.
"Because of our strength," he said, "we can really absorb the ups and downs of the market, whether it's the US economic slowdown, stock price volatility or a slowdown in ad revenues.
"We plan to consolidate our position for leadership. We'll do that no matter what."
Mr. Bellod said the company is moving forward with plans to increase its reach in each market where Terra Lycos operates. Expansion will be accomplished by acquiring other firms, he said, or from the growth of present structures.
A large number of new hires is not expected in Miami this year, he said.
Company statistics show Terra Lycos holding leading positions in four of eight primary markets: Canada, Korea, Latin America and US Hispanics.
The company generates revenue through advertising, e-commerce and Internet service-provider fees, Mr. Bellod said.
Fourth Quarter 2000 results, he said, showed Terry Lycos with $164 million in revenue, about 74% from advertising and content and 26% from paying subscribers.
"Advertisers can sign one contract with us and be in 41 different markets," he said.
Terra Lycos will continue to develop and offer its customers new services, Mr. Bellod said. As part of its growing US Spanish-language offerings, he said, the company recently launched three new services on Terra.com Tripod, a home-page building site; Instanterra, an instant messenger service, and Disco Virtual, a file storage service.
"The US Spanish-language market is and will continue to be an important market for Terra Lycos, as Hispanic consumers represent a huge, relatively untapped market," he said. "Our users tell us that Spanish-language content is important to them. We are committed to continuing to deliver the best product available to meet the market's demand."
Mr. Bellod said Tripod, at america.tripod.com., is meant to build brand loyalty among Spanish-language users who traditionally have been very family oriented. He said users can build a family home page using pictures, pages, sound and video files.
Instanterra, meanwhile, is a Spanish-language messaging service for users in different countries to communicate in real time. Mr. Bellod said the product is crucial in the US market, where most Spanish speakers have friends and relatives in Latin America.
"We launched it two weeks ago. The response is enormous," he said.
Disco Virtual at discovirtual.terra.com, Mr. Bellod said, allows users to store up to 25 megabytes of data or music files free. The idea, he said, is to use the space to store software or other information on Terra Lycos servers rather than overload the consumers' personal computers.
In addition to the new sites, the Terra Lycos network of dot-coms includes Lycos, Terra, Angelfire, ATuHora, Gamesville, HotBot, Invertia, RagingBull, Quote and Wired.
The company's headquarters is in Barcelona. Major offices are in Boston, Madrid, Sao Paolo and Monterrey.