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Terra Lycos names new U.S. head

The Spanish online giant names a new head of U.S. operations and a new advertising executive, after the resignation of its U.S. president, Stephen Killeen.

Terra Lycos named a new head of U.S. operations and a new advertising executive Wednesday, after the resignation of its U.S. president, Stephen Killeen.

Killeen, who joined the company less than two years ago, was replaced by Mark Stoever, former general manager of Terra Lycos' worldwide media-products unit. Stoever, a six-year veteran of the former Lycos, will become executive vice president of Terra Lycos U.S., a company representative said. The U.S. president title is being eliminated.

The online giant, based in Spain, also named Charles Theiss to the newly created position of vice president of U.S. sales. Theiss previously oversaw advertising at CNN's interactive group.

As previously reported, Killeen and chief technology officer Tim Wright indicated their desire to quit last week, as frustrations mounted over a sense that Terra Lycos was limiting the growth of its American unit, sources said. Wright, however, will remain with the company as CTO, Terra Lycos representatives said Wednesday.

Killeen's departure brings to a close the latest chapter in the short history of Lycos, the fifth most-visited Web property in October 2002 with some 37 million unique visitors, according to a report from online traffic measurement company Nielsen/NetRatings.

Like other Internet darlings, the Lycos unit had a steep fall from grace when the dot-com bubble burst, taking the online advertising market with it and turning once enormous valuations inside-out. Terra Lycos' U.S. online media operations has seen revenue fall 7 percent sequentially in the latest quarter, while rivals Yahoo and MSN were showing sequential growth, said Jeffrey Fieler, a Bear Stearns analyst, in a recent research report.

Stoever, however, laid out plans to bring growth to the unit.

"We have the right properties, the right assets and the right brand recognition," said Stoever, who joined the former Lycos in 1996. "We're going to focus on where advertising dollars are spent, and on growing our subscription (numbers) every month."

To achieve his goal of profitability and growth, Stoever said, new products are being developed for the company's Web site categories that have the higher profit margins, such as online match-making site Matchmaker.com, finance site Quote.com, home-page building site Tripod.com and technology news site Wired.com.

"We'll still offer many things for free, but there are many opportunities to also offer premium services," Stoever said.

During his tenure at Lycos, prior to the $12.5 billion merger with Terra Networks in 2000, Stoever played a role in transforming the company. The executive wrapped content, community, e-mail and other services around the search engine to create a portal, he said.

The late 1990s saw such acquisitions as HotBot.com and Matchmaker.com.

"Terra Lycos has money to spend and we've created a strategy of where we will invest...we have significant support from Spain and a significant opportunity here in the U.S.," Stoever said.