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Excite@Home Sheds Enliven Unit

Hoping to focus on its core business plan, providing high-speed Internet access, Excite@Home divested most of its ownership of online advertising company Enliven Wednesday.

According to an Enliven spokesperson, there would be no change in the day-to-day operations at the newly re-minted Enliven, Inc., headquartered in Waltham, MA, and no jobs would be affected. The current management would also keep its positions, the spokesperson said.

Enliven received an unspecified amount of financing, and its business freedom, from venture capital firm Sage Hill Partners, who will join @Home on the board of directors. @Home will retain a minority position in the company.

Enliven started its business life as Narrative Communications Corp, until it was bought out by @Home for $96 million in January, 1999, and renamed.

Enliven is now free to pursue advertising campaigns with other publishers, opening the door to increased sales with companies that might have been hesitant dealing with a business arm of @Home.

Frank Kashner, Enliven president, said he is looking forward to competing in the job market again.

"We are thrilled to go back to our roots as a private entrepreneurial company at a time when rich media technology is about to reshape the online advertising industry," Kashner said.

Enliven will continue to work in current and upcoming advertising campaigns with @Home and its advertising clients, said new board member Susan Bratton, @Home senior vice president of media sales and marketing.

"This is an important step in helping Excite@Home focus on its critical objectives - the broadband opportunity and profitability," Bratton said. "We will continue to offer Enliven across our entire network because we have solutions that work and provide services both for advertisers new to rich media as well as more experienced online marketers."

The move also gives @Home some breathing room on its financial sheet. The cable Internet provider has been under the gun to consolidate its business plan and get back on the road to profitability.

Despite its status as the number one cable Internet provider in the U.S., with nearly three million subscribers, Excite@Home posted a net loss of $115.8 million in 2000, or 29 cents per share. The company also announced staff cuts of 250 employees last month to bring numbers in line.

According to officials, Enliven's divestiture brings @Home a little closer to reaching its profitability goals.

"This is an important step towards our stated goals of focusing on our core broadband leadership, and driving to profitability in all of our key business segments," said George Bell, @Home president and chief executive officer.