BeyondGuide Merges with Bertelsmann-backed

BeyondGuide has completed a merger with, Germany`s leading content provider for travel-related information about Germany.

BeyondGuide, which provides a service in the U.S. that enables cell phone users to call and hear premium content about the major historical and cultural attractions in cities, will now expand its service offering to Europe, covering dozens of cities in at least 6 languages (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese). Bertelsmann Capital Ventures, a majority shareholder in, now becomes a major stakeholder in the merged company and is leading a next round of funding for BeyondGuide, which is expected to close in early 2002 and will allow for rapid expansion geographically, greater scope and depth of content, and enhanced service features.

The BeyondGuide service, currently available in Washington, DC and New York City, is the ultimate tour guide delivered over a mobile phone. Built on an interactive Voice XML platform that enables speech recognition, BeyondGuide allows a user to simply call and listen to hours of original, reenacted, and narrative audio while remaining in complete control of their experience. In the near future, the company will integrate automatic positioning technologies and multimedia services that enable text and graphics capabilities. BeyondGuide anticipates being a major player in the premium mobile content market, which is expected to grow from $1 billion in 2001 to $8 billion in 2006 according to Jupiter Media Metrix.