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In Business This Week: Headliner
George Bell: How Much Longer @Home?
They're going to have to put in a revolving door at Excite@Home soon. On Sept. 19, Chairman and CEO George Bell said he'll give up his CEO duties as soon as a replacement is found. He'll remain chairman through 2001. The move comes a mere eight months after Bell replaced Tom Jermoluk as CEO.
Why such a short tenure? In a statement, Bell said the separation of the chairman and CEO roles "is a natural evolution of the executive management team as a company grows." Indeed, Excite@Home, which provides speedy Net service over cable-TV, is projected to hit 3 million customers by the end of 2000 and 6 million by the end of 2001.
Still, the CEO job has become tougher of late. AT&T boosted its stake in Excite@Home last month to 74%, so the long-distance giant now has more control. In addition, Bell has been commuting from Boston, where his family lives, for more than a year. As chairman, he is expected to focus on keeping relations with AT&T, based in Basking Ridge, N.J., running smoothly.By Peter Elstrom in New York; Edited by Aleta DaviesReturn to top
A Promising AIDS Drug from Abbott
The Food & Drug Administration granted speedy approval on Sept. 15 to Abbott Laboratories' new AIDS drug, Kaletra. The latest in a class of drugs called protease inhibitors, Kaletra breaks new ground by reaching higher levels in the blood than existing drugs. That makes it likely to help those who haven't responded to other treatments. And side effects haven't been a problem in clinical trials. "We got extremely lucky," says Dr. Eugene Sun, Abbott's head of antiviral development. Credit Suisse First Boston analysts predict that Kaletra could capture up to 30% of the protease-inhibitor market by 2004, and reach sales of up to $500 million.Edited by Aleta DaviesReturn to top
Disney Rewrites Its Toy Story
Walt Disney announced multiyear licensing pacts with Hasbro and Mattel. Hasbro gets the rights to create and market toys based on new Disney films and TV shows. It also becomes official toymaker of the theme parks. Mattel will make preschool toys based on classic characters such as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh. Mattel had been Disney's chief toy licensee since the '50s. Disney says splitting the business plays to each company's strengths. Mattel's Fisher-Price is a preschool champ, while Hasbro did the tie-ins for Jurassic Park and Star Wars. Mattel Chair Robert Eckert told BUSINESS WEEK that he wanted out of some licensing deals that were unprofitable because of large pay guarantees. Analysts say classic characters are less risky than new-film tie-ins.Edited by Aleta DaviesReturn to top
A New Gig for Bill Bradley
Seven months after exiting the Presidential race, Bill Bradley has a day job. The ex-New Jersey senator is joining the board of UPromise, a Brookline (Mass.) for-profit that helps parents with college tuition. It teams with companies that give parents rebates on certain purchases. Proceeds go into tax-deferred mutual funds that can be used only for college costs. UPromise is banking on Bradley's contacts for partnerships. Participating companies may include a PC vendor and a credit-card company. Founded in July by Michael Bronner, ex-CEO of marketing and Web service provider Digitas, UPromise has raised $34 million in venture capital and plans to get under way in early 2001. Bradley will consult part-time and remains on the prowl for other ventures.Edited by Aleta DaviesReturn to top