BT expects to reap millions in advertising revenue through an
internet portal venture with US online navigation company LookSmart.
The pair are to form a pounds 123 million 50-50 joint venture which will
create portals in Europe and Asia Pacific. A spokesman said they would
have consistent branding but content would be tailored to each
’Advertising will be one of the main revenue sources along with
e-commerce and licensing,’ said the spokesman. ’Internet usage is going
to soar worldwide and BT wants a significant international
The deal, which does not cover the UK, is the biggest so far made by BT
Group Internet, a new division set up to boost the company’s involvement
in the web. The venture will also allow the company to move into
emerging areas such as wireless application protocol, the technology
enabling users to access the net through mobile phones and palmtops.
For San Francisco-based LookSmart, the deal means it will be able to
expand beyond its current core markets in the US and Australia. The
company has provided navigation products to leading online companies
such as The Microsoft Network, Excite@ Home and Alta Vista.
LookSmart chief executive Evan Thornley said the partnership established
’a new model that combines web navigation with access on a global
BT anticipates that the level of internet use in Europe and Asia will
soon catch up with that in the US. It says 63 million people in the US
have access to the net - a 44 per cent share of the world market. Europe
has 41 million users, around 29 per cent, while Asia-Pacific has 10
million and a 7 per cent share. But BT expects Europe to have gained on
the US by 2003.