WASHINGTON -- As in the rest of the Internet world, the Hispanic sector suffered its own slide this year with the disappearance or scaling-back of many Web sites, bankrupt businesses and workers out of a job.
Univision.com, a company with $30 million in losses, was the most-visited Spanish-language site this year in the United States.
With the exception of StarMedia Networks, which is on rocky ground, the most-visited Hispanic sites in the United States are financed by parent companies with profitable communications operations.
Such is the case with AOL Latinoamerica, Terra (owned by Spain's Grupo Telefonica SA), Yupi (controlled by Microsoft Network and Telefonos de Mexico SA), El Sitio (owned by Venezuela's Grupo Cisneros), Lamusica.com (property of the Spanish Broadcasting System) y CNN en Espaņol.
According to rankings from AdNet, these sites, together with StarMedia, were the most-visited Spanish-language Web portals in the United States during 2001.
The main collapses in the Hispanic Internet world were projects that did not depend on the financial support of "old media" companies.
That was the case with QuePasa.com, ZonaFinanciera.com and Latino.com, all of which folded in 2001 and were at one time among the most-visited Spanish-language Web sites in the United States.
None of those companies had business lifelines outside the Internet realm, but they had the highest advertising and service sales, although income from these operations was meager.
Now-forgotten Latino.com or QuePasa.com had higher revenues than Terra USA in January 2001, according to Hispanic Business magazine.
QuePasa.com, as opposed to Terra, Starmedia and Yupi, only focused on US Hispanics and ignored the Latin American market. Based in Phoenix, it received numerous rounds of financing from investors.
Despite having created attractive content, its costs approached $30 million a year in 1999 and 2000 and its revenues were only $500,000 in 1999 and $3 million in 2000.
ZonaFinanciera was conceived as a Spanish-language financial portal for Latin Americans and U.S. Hispanics. It was considered a strong competitor of Patagon.com, a similar Argentine company that was extremely popular in Latin America.
But while Patagon.com was bought by Spain's Banco Santander for over $550 million, ZonaFinanciera was unable to obtain a new injection of capital.
The firm's revenues, estimated at no more than $2 million in 2001, did not cover its costs, which analysts believed were 10 times higher, and the portal closed down in October.
At present, the Hispanic sites that have the highest sales in the United States are those that are visited most. Terra will have about $8 million in U.S. sales for 2001, compared to almost $375 million in Latin America and Spain, and StarMedia might reach $5 million in U.S. sales, with $65 million in Latin America. Both are in the red.
Univision.com, with U.S. sales of $5 million, and Yupi-MSN, with $3 million in U.S. sales and $7 million in Mexico, follow the top-ranked firms. All of them receive little income from advertising sales and in many cases e-commerce or subscriptions have become their number-one revenue source.
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