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It appears the basic problem for web.de is, they are not backed by potent partners. Web.de AG is a medium sized company, small fish compared to Lycos/Bertelsmann, Yahoo, AOL or T-Online.
They gained solid funding by going public, but cash burn rate is high. Over the last year Web.de set out for aggressive growth. Like all portals they are trying to compensate dwindling ad revenue with paid services. Itīs a difficult route for them to go, and cutting down human resources will not improve services.