PointCast Founder Preparing To Take Control of Push Pioneer

Chris Hassett, the founder and former chief executive officer of push broadcasting pioneer PointCast Inc. is reportedly rounding up support on Wall Street to get the financial commitments he would need to buy the company.

In an interview Friday with CNN Financial News, Hassett would not elaborate on the parties involved or how much the group might pay for PointCast.

The news comes on the heels of PointCast’s confirmation Thursday that it was laying off 75 employees, or about a third of its work force. The company said the move was necessary after discussions with several possible suitors, among them leading Baby Bell telephone companies, fell through.

Hassett, who left PointCast to become chief executive officer of PrizePoint, an entertainment Web site, told CNNfn Friday that Yahoo!’s $5.7 billion deal to buy Broadcast.com shows companies with a large membership base are still attractive.

This development marks the latest in a long series of ups and downs for the company which turned down a $450 million buyout offer from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. in 1997. PointCast ditched plans last year to take 20 percent of the company public.

PointCast also held discussions with several media giants, including NBC which it offered a $20 million stake — equal to about 17 percent of the company. After nothing materialized on that front, PointCast secured financing from regional telcos BellSouth US West, Microsoft and Bell Canada.

The goal was to sell PointCast to the Microsoft and the telephone companies and to later float an initial public offering. Those talks fell through after Microsoft pulled out and BellSouth demanded that either Bell Atlantic or SBC join the group.

Since the Hassett family still owns between 15 and 20 percent of PointCast’s stock, Hassett was involved in those talks.

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