The Czech internet number two Centrum Holdings is strengthening its position again. According to information available to HN, the company operating the allied web portals Atlas and Centrum should soon launch a third portal, a community network or a “network of contacts” called Sitko.cz.

Communities have become fashionable recently and their popularity is spreading to the Czech Republic. According to Universal McCann agency, over 800,000 Czechs have created an account with one of the social networks such as Facebook.

The principle of similar services is that a user creates his profile on the server and finds profiles of his friends, with whom he can, for example, exchange videos or photos.

“We think that a dating site or a business registry is no longer sufficient for today’s internet users. Our users will be able to create two worlds on the new website, one public and one completely private,” says Ondřej Švihálek, head of community services at Centrum Holdings.

Combining the successful
Centrum will draw inspiration from successful models abroad and, according to a source acquainted with the planned project, the new portal should build on the principles of successful local and world services such as Facebook or LinkedIn, which is, however, used mostly in business.

Besides personal profiles, group profiles or space for events will also be available. In other words, something similar to rival domestic websites like Spolužáci.cz, which is operated by Czech number one portal Seznam.cz.

Sitko.cz, however, is only one of the projects. “We’ve been introducing a new services since September. Realitymix.cz and the new look of Aktuálně.cz. We will launch five or more projects in autumn,” Centrum Holdings head Pavel Mucha, told HN earlier. Since October, the portal Atlas has been using the search technology of Google, the world’s number one search engine. Mucha added that the communication software ICQ could join the new services.

Millions of users adding up
Communities are becoming more and more attractive to Czech internet’s big players. Nova will launch a new look of its website Sunday. “We want to create communities around our series and if negotiations with our foreign partners are successful, then also communities around our foreign series,” says Nova’s head Petr Dvořák, adding that Nova is working on enabling its Blog.cz users to import videos on their pages easily.

The most successful portals in the world are better-off. For example, Facebook has more than 125 million users and is competing for first place on the market with a similar community server MySpace.com, which is part of Rupert Murdoch’s empire. But still, Facebook, which was created by a student Mark Zuckerberg and his roommate, friend and programmer in one, has been earning money.

According to latest Forbes rankings, Zuckerberg was named the youngest billionaire in the world. The assets of the 24-year-old man are estimated at around USD 1.5 billion.

And big players from the computer field are interested in the whole World Wide Web. For example Microsoft, which wants to significantly strengthen its position on the internet, paid USD 240 million for a 1.6% share in Facebook last year.