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Walter Isaacson: Time Passage


In Business This Week: Headliner

Walter Isaacson: Time Passage

For weeks, rumors swirled that Time magazine Managing Editor Walter Isaacson would be moving on after four years on the job, but not before he oversaw the closing of the crucial Election Day issue. Sure enough, though the election is unresolved, Isaacson's fate is not. On Nov. 14, the New Orleans native was promoted to editorial director of Time Inc., Time Warner's publishing unit, with a bevy of 40 magazines. Isaacson, 48, will be replaced by Deputy Managing Editor Jim Kelly, with whom he started at Time in 1978.

Isaacson's new role gives him more clout to shape strategies for the pending Old Media/New Media marriage of Time Warner and America Online. His main focus will be finding ways the magazines can work with AOL and CNN, another Time Warner unit. "I bring enthusiasm, if not wisdom," says Isaacson, who was Time Inc.'s New Media editor before joining Time. And for those old ink-stained wretches at the magazines who are nervous about their new Net partner, Isaacson seems to be the perfect liaison.By Tom LowryReturn to top

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Verizon Sees Blue Sky Ahead

Does Verizon Wireless CEO Dennis Strigl know something about the stock market that others don't? On Nov. 15, Strigl agreed to acquire Price Communications Wireless, a Southeastern mobile-phone operator, for slightly more than $2 billion. But Strigl made the deal contingent on Verizon Wireless' ability to complete its initial public offering, which he delayed in October. Strigl is betting that the stock market--or shares of mobile-phone companies--will recover enough over the next year that he can take his company public. Verizon Wireless is expected to raise $10 billion to $15 billion in the largest IPO in U.S. history. If it doesn't happen by Sept. 30, 2001, Strigl's deal for Price is off.Edited by Monica RomanReturn to top

MP3.Com Signs a Peace Treaty

Napster's not the only digital music renegade to embrace a legal business model. On Nov. 14, online music site MP3.com settled its final copyright suit with Seagram's Universal Music Group for $53.4 million. The settlement gives Universal an undisclosed number of MP3.com shares. CEO Michael Robertson says the total will not exceed 20%. The San Diego company settled four similar suits with record labels earlier this year. So far, it has spent less than $117 million on legal fees--the amount set aside for copyright disputes. An unfavorable ruling could have cost an additional $118 million. Rather than take the risk, MP3.com chose to make peace. Now, it will legally house the Big Five's music catalogs, giving users access to more than 700,000 digital songs.Edited by Monica RomanReturn to top

Lightening the Load at CMGI

Things seem to be going from bad to worse at ailing Net incubator CMGI. In efforts to damp a $190 million-a-quarter burn rate, CMGI has been shuttering operations. On Nov. 13, it pulled the plug on entertainment portal iCast and the ad-based free Internet service provider 1stUp.com. CMGI Chairman David Wetherell, once hailed as a Web ad visionary, is today "saddled by major exposure to Internet advertising," said Steven Frankel, an analyst with Adams, Harkness & Hill in Boston. Frankel is not optimistic about the Web ad holiday season, suggesting CMGI's road to profitability could be a long one.Edited by Monica RomanReturn to top


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