Neither Lycos spokeswoman Madeline Mooney nor Paul DeBraccio, vice president of advertising and sales for Tripod, would comment on the possible deal. Tripod spokeswoman Kara Berklich, who could not be reached, previously has declined comment that Lycos and Tripod have been holding talks about a combination, characterizing the speculation as "rumors."
But sources familiar with negotiations said terms of a deal could call for a buyout under which Lycos stock would be exchanged for Tripod shares in a purchase worth nearly $60 million. Tripod's management, including chief executive Bo Peabody, would remain intact under the merger.
The negotiations come at a time when Internet directories are increasingly are adding new features such as community, instant messaging, and free email as the line between search engines and online services blurs.
A Tripod acquisition would help Lycos boost its traffic among 18- to 34-year-olds, Tripod's core audience. The Tripod site, which is updated daily, has attracted more than 500,000 members to date.
Speculation about the deal comes in the wake of GeoCities' receipt of $25 million in a deal with Yahoo and Softbank last month. It called for Yahoo and GeoCities to integrate their member services on their respective sites by March.