Bertelsmann Heir's Ambition for 'Web Airbus' Project

31 July 2006

Restive at the dominance of US-headquartered internet giants such as Google, Yahoo! and Ebay, the Bertelsmann media empire heir Christoph Mohn on Friday issued a rallying call to European internet businesses to unite in the creation of an 'Airbus of the Web'.

Inspired by the [recently flawed] success of the inter-nation Airbus project, Mohn, ceo of Lycos Europe, an internet portal operating in eight European nations, laments the fact that there is no European challenger to the US cyber colossi.

"So far, we have not built up a sizeable internet company in Europe," moans Mohn. "It's not good for the European Union. Nanotechnology, biotechnology and the internet are the growth industries but in most of these the position is not good for Europe."

He also hailed the controversial Franco-German plan to build a state-funded European search engine called Quaero [WAMN: 10-Mar-06]. "It's a little bit like Airbus Industries. I don't think it requires consolidation [of Europe's internet industry] but it needs co-ordination."

Mohn refuted charges that his stance - and that of Quaero - is anti-Google. "[It] is not just about 'let's beat Google'," he said. "It's 'let's build up a competitive internet industry'."

Lycos, which in the first half of this year neared break-even for the first time in its twelve year history, plans to launch the first of its products to the US within a year.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff