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Summary:

It’s the end of the road. After putting itself on the auction block in April, Lycos Europe has finally conceded what had become increasingly…

It’s the end of the road. After putting itself on the auction block in April, Lycos Europe has finally conceded what had become increasingly clear – no-one wants to buy the ailing portal. So it confirmed Wednesday morning it will wind up its portal and its web hosting activities. It’s now about asset stripping – the company said it still wants to sell its domain names, its Danish business and its shopping sites. As a result, Lycos Europe will give back

  1. There was a time that Lycos Europe had the largest self publishing platform (Tripod), a precursor to today's blogs. The largest youth community (Love@Lycos or Spray date) remarkably similar in features to the early MySpace.

    It had and still has the largest European chat rooms in Jubii. It had the largest web email product (Caramail) in many parts of Europe and the biggest mobile channel.

    But top management (heavy in MBA's), all of whom (with the exception of Jurgen Galler – now at Google) showed little understanding for new media, shunned these market leading products.

    The reason?

    A consultant told them that they had too many 'Chatters and Gamers', cash poor time rich youngsters and too little 'dotcom dablers' 'time poor cash rich' older people. But a little analytics whould have showed them that these web users do nothing but shop on Amazon – a comparable product Lycos did not have.

    The company decided to target the dablers, but its product set was hopelessly inadequate to attarct or satisfy them.

    Then they put that cart in front of the horse. Lycos introduced charging for webmail, Love@lycos, mobile, hosting. Dablers like paying. At the same time they under invested in all these world beating services.

    Audience numbers dropped precipitously while they never made much money from charging (premium revenues). The Dablers stayed away.

    By 2005 when MySpace hit the headlines it was too late for Lycos to turn things around. They launched a blogging service, a poor knockoff of the Opensource WordPress. They launched LycosIQ, quite an innovative product.

    But it's valuable chatter and gamer audience and products had been lost forever.

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  2. I agree with moth of Van Rensburgs analyzis. In my opinion, the biggest problem Lycos did, was to centralize development of the many succes-products they bought.

    Lycos has HQ in Gütersloh, Germany – and it turned out that it was very hard to get the most innovative people to move there and continue working with their "babys".
    Furthermore they drowned the remaining innovation in German style burocracy.

    The only cool product they released the last couple of years were IQ – as Van Rensburg mention – but not even that, they managed to capitalize. A service allmost commercialfree is hard to make money from :-)

    It could have been such a succes, but ended so sad

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  3. There were more problems:

    1) killing spray = a cool BRAND with huge traffic

    2) buying SEO driven shopping pages from Pangora for 30.000.000 EUR … 2 weeks after the owners sold them to Lycos GOogle kicked them out of Index = LOSS of 80 % of traffic

    3) buying Traffic from Google for Lycos IQ… a service they couldn't monetize

    4) investing heavily in Jubii 2.0 a service that never took of

    5) running around in high level meetings TALKING about the Future of eCommerce etc. instead of working on those solutions
    http://www.e-commerce-kongress.de/kongress.php

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  4. Excellent analysis, guys. Keep it coming, and please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any extra info. Thanks.

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  5. From another Lycos alum who used to work with Wessel, this analysis is spot on. As early as 2002, it was clear to people on the ground who had a clue (and there were a few, they were just woefully underrepresented in management) that Lycos was fast becoming an irrelevance in search and that it was squandering some major opportunities in mobile and community. The number of great products and teams that were brought only to be staggeringly mishandled was heartbreaking.

    Time that should have been spent working on the next generation of products was instead wasted on moronic 'market positioning' initiatives such as the infamous "Nicole 23", in which the entire UK arm of the company spent weeks putting themselves in the position of a fictional target user to better understand what kind of content (yes, content) she would most respond to.

    Another +1 for Jurgen Galler, who was one of the few senior management who had a strong product sense and sound strategic grasp of the direction of digital media.

    So much value destruction, so many wasted opportunities.

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  6. No way this could be true i am a lycos chat user and have been since the opening bk in 2000/2001 … i was just 11/12 years old then if the chat was 2 be taken away i dunno wot i would do lol

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  7. Hang on – I manage some domains through Lycos. What'll happen to the web hosting / professional services arm etc? I'm hoping for continuity / minimal disruption. Shame tho.

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  8. I used to have email and use Lycos website heavily till about 2002 or something like that… after that I cannot remember how was the transition to google. It is amazing ;-)

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  9. Don Mac Donald Sunday, January 25, 2009

    We are finishing a platform which makes available inteoperability of content, chiefly through the provision of a de facto standard for information – as opposed to interoperability of software or whatever. The standard involves c. 70 top-level attributes (= analytical approaches to information definition). This will change the Net from a library with all the books on the floor, or the Tower of Babel, to a navigable medium for knowledge worker communication and information management. It's about 2 generations ahead of Google. For us Lycos Europe would be an ideal vehicle to make the platform available, in Europe and globally. For Lycos, the platform would provide the basis for a new life. But how do we get the attention of Lycos' management? Suggestions?
    Don

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  10. Lycos simply didn't adapt. Its chat rooms were a complete disaster. With its captain ships and decks it lured children into a community and exposed them to harmful adult content.

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