RealTime IT News

StarMedia Taps Into U.S. Hispanic Market

Latin American network firm StarMedia Network Inc. Monday launched a community Internet service targeting Hispanics living in the United States.

Its platform consists of e-mail applications, a search engine and a variety of branded channels catering to the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Internet population.

Several big-name companies have already signed on as advertisers. They include Banco Real, Barnes & Noble, Bay Networks, BMW, Charles Schwab, Chrysler, Citibank, Cyberian Outpost, DIRECTV, Epson, Ford, General Motors, and IDT.

Strategic partners include Netscape Communications Corp., Excite Inc., Ziff Davis, Fox Latin America, USA Networks, CBS TeleNoticias, Agence France Press, Dow Jones, Reuters, and United Press International.

Hispanic Internet users are growing at a record pace. Internet use among U.S. Hispanics rose 650 percent over the past 4 years to 4.5 million users while the Latin online audience outside the United States grew to 10 million, up from 1 million in 1996.

"In Latin America, the No. 1 reason people use StarMedia is that it serves as their own, in-language, home-base on the Internet," said Fernando Espuelas, chairman and chief executive officer of StarMedia Network.

"We believe that a sense of belonging and identity with a Latin community online will be key to Spanish- and Portuguese-speakers everywhere, regardless of their country of origin."

Founded in 1996, Star Media has offices in New York, Miami, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Bogota and Santiago.