StarMedia Unveils Spanish Instant Messaging

Latin American portal StarMedia Network Inc. said Monday it
will launch StarMedia Express, the first Spanish instant messaging service
on the Internet.

Communications provider PeopleLink
helped co-develop StarMedia Express, which the company describes
as a hybrid of chat and e-mail. PeopleLink’s Community Directory and
interest-based groups, dubbed “iGroups” will enable StarMedia Express users
to locate and chat with each other.

The customized instant messaging service
supports foreign characters and provides documentation and Web-based help
and tools pages in Spanish and Portuguese.

StarMedia Express will notify users when other users are online and through
instant messaging, users can talk to one or more users at the same time
from any location on the Web. StarMedia Express is available for free
download and installation on PCs.

Last week America Online announced a $100 million initiative to enter the
Latin American market with partner Cisneros Group. AOL also provides IM or
instant messaging through its June acquisition of Israeli-based Mirabilis Ltd., developers of ICQ.

“At StarMedia, we’ve worked hard to create an environment where the Spanish
and Portuguese speaking online community truly feels at home,” said
Fernando Espuelas, chairman and chief executive officer of StarMedia.

“Naturally, our users are most comfortable communicating one-to-one in
their native languages — the
same way they talk face to face. PeopleLink was a perfect choice for us
because not only is its software
technologically the most innovative, but it’s also the kind of
high-quality, user-friendly product that will help foster the kind of
community we want StarMedia to be,” Espuelas said.

“We’re excited to see our instant messaging technology extend its reach to
Latin America and the U.S.
Hispanic market,” said Steve Glenn, founder and chief executive officer of
PeopleLink, Inc.

“With the Latin American Internet community expected to grow close to four
fold by the end of this century, we are pleased to be partnering with
StarMedia, the top online network in the region.”

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