The ranks of old-media executives embracing the dot-com world swelled last week as former cable chieftains Michael Fuchs and Jeff Marcus resurfaced as new-media CEOs.
Fuchs, a 20-year Time Warner Inc. veteran and former Home Box Office CEO, was named chairman and interim CEO of MyTurn.com Inc. The Alameda, Calif.-based company plans to market inexpensive Internet-wired PCs with the hope of driving electronic commerce.
Marcus Cable founder Marcus-who sold out in 1998 to Charter Communications Inc. for $3.3 billion-is now chairman and CEO of eVentures Group Inc. The Dallas-based holding company invests mostly in Internet infrastructure and telephony companies.
While Fuchs acknowledged that the MyTurn.com post is "very different than anything I've done," he said the job also reminds him of his early days in cable.
"I think [MyTurn.com] has a product that can make a difference, just like I thought cable could make a difference and HBO could make a difference. It's up against terrific odds. In HBO, we were up against all of the behemoths-the studios and the networks-and we succeeded," he added, comparing more powerful networks and studios to the tech companies he'll now compete with.
Fuchs succeeds R.E. "Teddy" Turner IV, son of Time Warner vice chairman Ted Turner, as CEO. Turner is still a director.
MyTurn.com plans to begin selling $299 PCs in five U.S. cities by midyear, and the company expects a full rollout by the end of 2000. Fuchs said the company hopes to bridge the digital divide by marketing inexpensive PCs to the 50 percent of U.S. households that don't own computers.
While his title is interim CEO, Fuchs doesn't plan to leave anytime soon, noting that the next 18 months are "critical for the company."
"I'll stop doing this job when the place is successful, or we have what I think is a management that can run the place the way it should be run," he said.
Marcus joined AMFM Inc. (formerly Chancellor Media Corp.) after the Charter deal, but he left early last year to form a venture-capital firm, Marcus & Partners.
At eVentures Group, Marcus will oversee several investments, including stakes in Internet transmission-service companies AxisTel Communications Inc. and e.Volve Technology Group.
The company also holds stakes in IP-telephony (Internet protocol) companies Internet Global Services Inc., PhoneFree.com and Televant Inc.'s Callrewards.com, as well as in new-media incubator company Launch Center 39.
Last week, eVentures Group said it completed a $58.5 million private placement of restricted stock.
New investors include Liberty Media Group; Chase Capital Partners; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; The Blackstone Group; First Union Capital Partners; Brazos Investment Partners; Maverick Capital, Edgewater Funds; Mellon Ventures Inc.; and Paul Capital Partners.