RealTime IT News

Excite@Home's Job Hunt

As Excite@Home struggles to get its house in order, the hunt is on to find a new CEO to make the necessary repairs.

George Bell, Excite@Home chairman and current chief executive officer, said he will remain as acting CEO until the end of 2001, but wants to start the search for a replacement now.

"It's become increasingly apparent that we need two people here," Bell said. "A chairman, to work with issues like our cable partners and strategy, and a CEO to handle the day-to-day operations. We've grown to be one of the largest broadband providers in the world, and as such, we wanted to make the announcement public, in the light of day, instead of having it leaked to the press.

"We've hired a search firm to find somebody," Bell continued. "Obviously, we want to get a great person in here, (but) timing is a secondary issue."

@Home's pro forma revenues increased 51 percent to $169 million from third quarter 1999, an eight percent increase since the second quarter 2000, but still fell below analysts' expectations of $185 million.

To offset its disappointing financial numbers, @Home reported that in nearly three months time, the cable Internet service provider has garnered an astonishing 510,000 new subscribers in nearly three months, from more than 1.8 million June 30 to 2.313 million Sept. 30.

Bell cites reports of the nation's increased demand for broadband Internet access, growing from just one percent of total Internet users connected to high-speed access last year to 42 percent this year. And, Bell said, 55 percent of those who are signed up now for broadband refuse to ever return to dial up access again.

Mark McEachen, Excite@Home executive vice president and chief financial officer, credits @Home's high subscriber rates to the cable affiliates in the local markets.

"Our cable affiliates are aggressively marketing @Home's Internet offerings," McEachen said. "As such, we have 7.17 percent market penetration in homes in North America, with 510,000 new subscribers in the third quarter, up 28 percent overall and an increase of 60 percent of new customers generated in the second quarter."

Subscriber growth is a bright spot for the company looking to get over the rumored internal strife that saw some of @Home's top executives and employees leave last year. @Home hopes it has addressed that with the August restructuring of its board of directors. AT&T will hold six seats on the board, with Bell, three independent directors and one to be determined at a later date taking one spot each.

In order to make it even easier for customers to sign up to @Home's cable services, McEachen also announced the company's agreement with Radio Shack to market its "truckless" cable install by the end of the month.

"Now, all a customer has to do is go to Radio Shack, where a sales representative will take their phone number to see if they qualify for cable Internet," McEachen said. "All the customer has to do is plug in the equipment, install the CD and make one phone call to the local cable company to start the service. The only reason a technician would need to come out to the house would be to install a cable jack or filters."

As the company continues to get new customers, Bell said, Excite@Home needs to work to ensure that its current customers stay with his company.

Officials said @Home's 2.3 million customers are seeing as much content as 12 million of America Online, Inc.'s subscribers. With broadband customers 38 percent more likely than dial up customers to make a purchase online, the key is to get content to the customers.

McEachen reported 1,400 new commercial accounts from businesses who provide content for their clients. That, and the completion of its acquisition of Pogo.com in the fourth quarter, will bring a lot of new content to @Home custo