Lycos to buy personal home page firm Tripod

Lycos Inc. (LCOS), in a bid to boost traffic for its Web-based navigation service, said today it acquired personal home page publisher Tripod Inc. in a stock deal valued at $58 million.

The deal is the latest move by Web aggregators to pull in more traffic from add-on services such as personal Web publishing and free electronic mail despite the absence of a business model that effectively cashes in on the audiences attracted by those services.

Last month, Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) formed a partnership with personal Web page publisher GeoCities Inc., taking a minority equity stake in the company. On Dec. 31, 1997, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) acquired free e-mail provider HotMail Corp. in a deal estimated at between $300 million and $400 million.

The shake-out of the personal Web page business is surprising, given the corporate heritage of the companies involved. Both Lycos and GeoCities are products of the CMG Information Services Inc. venture firm and have held tight traffic-sharing partnerships since their inception.

With the acquisition of Tripod, though, Lycos estimates that its audience reach - the number of unique visitors it attracts in a given period - will rise by 48 percent. The combination will make Lycos the Web's fifth most visited publisher, reaching nearly one-quarter of all Internet users.

Tripod will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Lycos. Tripod Chief Executive Officer Bo Peabody will remain in his position with the company, and Tripod Chairman Dick Sabot becomes a member of Tripod's board of directors.