At Home Corp.'s $6.7 billion merger with Internet
portal Excite Inc. was expected to be approved by shareholders last week, setting the
stage for a name change and a shuffling of top management responsibilities at the
high-speed cable-modem-service provider.
At Home, parent of @Home Network, will change its name to
Excite At Home, taking advantage of the more widely known Excite name.
Excite president George Bell will become Excite At
Home's new president, in charge of day-to-day operations, while Tom Jermoluk will
retain his titles of chairman and CEO and focus on dealmaking activities.
The shift in titles has been expected almost since the two
companies announced their merger in January.
At Home spokesman Matt Wolfrom said the name change will
only be on the corporate level. The narrowband service will still be branded Excite, and
the cable service will continue to include both the name of the MSO providing the service
in each particular region and the @Home name.
For example, in Cox Communications Inc.'s systems, the
service will still be called Cox@Home. And although most consumers won't notice a
change initially, they should expect to see differences in the service in the future
"They will [notice a change] over time," Wolfrom
said. "We're taking the personalization of Excite. We want to have a consistent
interface. There is a lot of value in having the MSO brand with @Home."
Wolfrom said it was too early to tell whether there will be
a big marketing push for the newly created Excite At Home, although the Excite name will
give At Home a national audience.
According to some analysts, the Excite name may be enough
"I think the company appreciates that Excite could be
a very powerful lever to drive penetration of the @Home high-speed service," Stephens
Inc. media analyst John Corcoran said. "They appreciate that over time, just being a
fat pipe into the home is a fast ticket to become a commodity."
Corcoran said that as consumers begin to get more choices
-- especially when the telephone companies begin to roll out digital-subscriber-line
services, their answer to high-speed data over cable -- it will be more important than
ever for cable-modem-service providers to establish a critical mass. And the way to do
that is with content and services that aren't available anywhere else.
"You want to have sticky sites -- ones that people
come back to a lot," Corcoran said. "And you want value-added back-end services,
like [@Home has with] MatchLogic [Inc.]. These are hard for others to replicate."
Corcoran added that the market is evolving to one where
customers will access the Internet from multiple devices in the home, and they will care
less about how the service is delivered as opposed to what is being delivered.
"How do you emphasize that? You make sure the head of
Excite has a prominent role in the overall organization," Corcoran said.
Bell's past experience has been in the
magazine-publishing and the cable- and broadcast-television industries.
He served as senior vice president of Times Mirror
Magazines from 1991 to 1995, where he was also instrumental in the launch of Outdoor Life
Network, a specialty-interest cable channel that reaches 10 million homes.
Prior to joining Times Mirror, he was a writer and producer
of conservation and adventure documentaries for ABC, CBS, National Geographic and
He was also head writer and producer of ABC's American
Sportsman series and head writer for ABC's coverage of the 1984 Olympic Games.
Bell has won four national Emmy Awards.