A screenshot of Lycos.com as of 2015
|Type of business||Subsidiary|
Type of site
|Search Engine and Web Portal|
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Headquarters||Waltham, Massachusetts, United States|
|Key people||Rim Ji-hoon, CEO of Kakao|
|Employees||450 globally (2017)|
|Alexa rank||35,920 (As of 14 May 2019[update])|
|Launched||April 13, 1995|
Lycos, Inc., is a web search engine and web portal established in 1994, spun out of Carnegie Mellon University. Lycos also encompasses a network of email, webhosting, social networking, and entertainment websites. The company is based in Waltham, Massachusetts, and is currently a subsidiary of Kakao.
Lycos is a university spin-off that began as a research project by Michael Loren Mauldin of Carnegie Mellon University's main Pittsburgh campus in May 1994. Lycos Inc. was formed with approximately US$2 million in venture capital funding from CMGI. Bob Davis became the CEO and first employee of the new company in 1995, and concentrated on building the company into an advertising-supported web portal. Lycos enjoyed several years of growth during the 1990s and became the most visited online destination in the world in 1999, with a global presence in more than 40 countries.
In April 1996, the company completed the fastest initial public offering from inception to offering in NASDAQ (LCOS) history, ending its first day with a market value of $300 million. It also became the first search engine to go public, before its big rivals Yahoo! and Excite. In 1997, it became one of the first profitable Internet businesses in the world. In 1998, Lycos acquired Tripod.com for $58 million in an attempt to "break into the portal market".
Lycos Europe was a joint venture between Lycos and the Bertelsmann transnational media corporation, but it has always been a distinct corporate entity. Although Lycos Europe remains the largest of Lycos's overseas ventures, several other Lycos subsidiaries also entered into joint venture agreements including Lycos Canada, Lycos Korea and Lycos Asia.
Lycos was one of the most popular websites on the internet, ranking 8th in 1997, and peaking at 4th in both 1999 and 2001.
Near the peak of the dot-com bubble on May 16, 2000, Lycos announced its intent to be acquired by Terra Networks, the Internet arm of the Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica, for $12.5 billion. The acquisition price represented a return of nearly 3,000 times the company's initial venture capital investment and about 20 times its initial public offering valuation. The transaction closed in October 2000 and the merged company was renamed Terra Lycos, although the Lycos brand continued to be used in the United States. Overseas, the company continued to be known as Terra Networks.
In August 2004, Terra announced that it was selling Lycos to Seoul, South Korea–based Daum Communications Corporation, now Kakao, for $95.4 million in cash, less than 2% of Terra's initial multibillion-dollar investment. In October 2004, the transaction closed and the company name was changed back to Lycos. The remaining Terra half was reacquired by Telefónica.
Under new ownership, Lycos began to refocus its strategy. The company moved away from being a search-centric portal and toward a community destination for broadband entertainment content. With a new management team in place, Lycos also began divesting properties that were not core to its new strategy. In July 2006, Wired News, which had been part of Lycos since the purchase of Wired Digital in 1998, was sold to Condé Nast Publications and re-merged with Wired Magazine. The Lycos Finance division, best known for Quote.com and RagingBull.com, was sold to FT Interactive Data Corporation in February 2006, while its online dating site, Matchmaker.com, was sold to Date.com. In 2006, Lycos regained ownership of the Lycos trademark from Carnegie Mellon University, allowing the company to rename to Lycos, Inc.
During 2006, Lycos introduced several media services, including Lycos Phone which combined video chat, real-time video on demand, and an MP3 player. In November 2006, Lycos began to roll out applications centered on social media, including its video application, Lycos Cinema, that featured simultaneous watch and chat functionality. In February 2007, Lycos MIX was launched, allowing users to pull video clips from YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo! Video and MySpace Video. Lycos MIX also allowed users to create playlists where other users could add video comments and chat in real-time.
As part of a corporate restructuring to focus on mobile, social networks and location-based services, Daum sold Lycos for $36 million in August 2010 to Ybrant Digital, an Internet marketing company based in Hyderabad, India. Ybrant Digital paid $20 million at signing and there has been a legal dispute over magnitude of the second installment between Ybrant and Daum. In 2018, a New York court ruled in favor of Daum and appointed Daum (by then merged with Kakao) as receiver of Ybrant's 56% ownership interest in Lycos.
In May 2012, Lycos announced the appointment of former employee Rob Balazy as CEO of Media division of Lycos.
In September 2014, Ed Noel was appointed in place of Rob and manages the operations under the title of General Manager of Lycos Media.
In June 2015, Lycos announced a pair of wearable devices, called Band and Ring.
As of August 2019, Lycos searches in Europe and Australia yield no results, showing a generic "no results" message. Results are still available in Mexico, and possibly some other countries.