LookSmart and BT Form $200 Million Portal Venture

LookSmart and
BT have announced a $200 million
joint venture to develop portals targeting European and Asian markets.


The companies will rely on BT’s customer base of over 31 million Internet
and wireless subscribers, and the user base for LookSmart’s 17 country directory portals.


“We estimate that the portal market in Europe and Asia
will overtake that of the U.S. in the next five years,”
said Evan Thornley, co-founder and CEO of LookSmart.
“Together, we are prepared to commit up to $200 million
to capture the leadership position in these markets.”


The venture also looks to develop new broadband and wireless application protocol (WAP) services to promote use of the new technologies.


The partners expect the number of
users accessing the Internet in Western Europe and Asia to
grow from its current figure of 51 million people to
over 215 million people by 2003, according to IDC estimates.

LookSmart (LOOK) navigation portal and directory projects are developed in-country teams, in the goal of building culturally sensitive directories that are
locally relevant but can also be used by a global
audience.


“We chose LookSmart as our global partner for their
superior web navigation solution and their well-established
global focus,” said Alfred T. Mockett, president and CEO
of BT Worldwide.


Existing LookSmart sites cater for U.S., UK, Canadian,
Australian, and Netherlands markets. LookSmart has built directories for 13 countries, and is developing additional directories to add seven more to the roster.


Earlier this week, LookSmart and Inktomi Corp. formed an alliance to develop and market customized search directories for vertical portals, and intend to use the creation as a navigation standard.

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