Type of site
|Free web hosting service|
|Created by||Bo Peabody, Brett Hershey, and Dick Sabot|
Tripod.com is a Web hosting service owned by Lycos. Originally aiming its services to college students and young adults, it was one of several sites trying to build online communities during the 1990s. As such, Tripod formed part of the first wave of user-generated content.
Tripod offers free and paid Web hosting services, including 20 megabytes of storage space and the ability to run Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts in Perl. In addition to basic hosting, Tripod also offers a blogging tool, a photo album manager, and the Trellix site builder for WYSIWYG page editing. Tripod's for-pay services include additional disk space, a shopping cart, domain names, web and POP/IMAP email.
Tripod originated in 1992 with two Williams College classmates, Bo Peabody and Brett Hershey, along with Dick Sabot, an economics professor at the school. The company was headquartered in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with Peabody as CEO. Although it would eventually focus on the Internet, Tripod also published a magazine, Tools for Life, that was distributed with textbooks, and offered a discount card for students.
The domain name Tripod.com was created on September 29, 1994, and the site officially launched in 1995 after operating in "sneak-preview mode" for a period. Billed as a "hip web site and pay service for and by college students", it offered how-to advice on practical issues young people might deal with when first living away from home. It planned to charge a minimal fee and make money primarily on commissions from partners who would sell products on the site. Other services available included résumé writing features and a simple homepage builder.
Although the feature was an afterthought originally, Tripod soon became known as a place where people could create free web pages, competing with the likes of GeoCities and Angelfire. Criticizing AOL, the existing leader in this space, for its walled-garden approach, Peabody described the company's aims: "Our idea is to build a community through user-created and user-based content." A Washington Post reviewer recommended Tripod over GeoCities for giving users an easier URL to remember, and because GeoCities sites had a tendency to crash computers.
Investment and buyout
After receiving an initial investment of $4 million in venture capital, led by New Enterprises Associates, in May 1997 Tripod took an additional round of investment totaling $10 million. By this time the company had grown to 40 employees and was hoping to reach profitability by the 1st quarter of 1998. The second group of investors included Interpublic, which paid $2.5 million for a stake in Tripod estimated at 10 percent, thus implying a valuation of $25 million for the company overall. As it turned out, Tripod would be sold in February 1998 to Lycos for a reported $58 million in stock.
Lycos also ended up owning Tripod's former competitor Angelfire, picked up as part of the acquisition of WhoWhere. The two properties were run concurrently, with Tripod continuing to focus on its college-age audience while Angelfire tended to attract high school users. In early 2001, Tripod reached 6 million registered users (up from nearly 1 million at the time it was acquired) and was expanding at an estimated 250,000 new sites per month. However, generating profits remained difficult, with an analyst opining that they needed better user profiling so the sites could generate the results expected by advertisers. They also had the challenge of not alienating users while trying to make money. By the end of the year, Tripod and Angelfire also introduced account options allowing users to pay in order to keep their sites ad-free. GeoCities, itself now acquired by Yahoo!, would follow suit not long afterward.
Web sites generally are a subdomain of tripod.com. However, users can pay a monthly charge and own a domain name. Paying in this manner also allows for other benefits, such as more disk space for the site which allows the site owner to put more information onto it, and personalized email accounts (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org).
On January 18, 2009 the blog TechCrunch erroneously reported that Lycos would be shutting down the Tripod service on February 15, 2009. In actuality, the February shutdown was correct but applied only to Lycos Europe and so only users of Lycos Europe services were affected. By the afternoon following the initial TechCrunch article, Lycos posted an entry on their Lycos Buzz blog explaining this and assuring readers that Lycos US and the Tripod service were not shutting down. TechCrunch subsequently corrected the error in their original article.
- Elliott, Stuart. "Interpublic invests in an Internet provider aimed at 'the transition generation' of young adults". New York Times, May 28, 1997, p. D5.
- Tripod.com Site Info Alexa
- Shannon, Victoria. "Board Bulletin". Washington Post, May 31, 1995, p. R22.
- Akst, Daniel. "So You're Ready for a Web Page". Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1996, p. 3.
- Sreenivasan, Sreenath. "New Neighborhood, No Money Down". New York Times, March 17, 1997, p. D5.
- Hertzman, Monica Neal. "It didn't take a miracle to share their trip. Just the Web". Washington Post, July 11, 1999, p. E1.
- Technology Brief. "Lycos Inc.: Acquisition of Tripod Inc. Expected to Be Announced". Wall Street Journal, February 3, 1998, p. 1.
- Musgrove, Mike. "A Home Page Of One's Own: Free, Easy Site-Hosting Services Tap Into the Urge to Post". Washington Post, January 28, 2001, p. H1.
- Walker, Leslie. "Many 'Free' Home-Page Sites Putting the Squeeze on Users". Washington Post, March 10, 2002, p. H7.
- Fox, Geoff. Lycos Mail, Tripod Death--Not So Fast." AppScout. 18 Jan. 2009. Web. 22 Aug. 2009.