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New Net Incubator Aligns with 'Mars . . . Venus' Author

March 08, 2000|DENISE GELLENE and LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

In January, Mariana Danilovic quit as manager of KPMG's Digital Media Business Incubator to start her own Internet hatchery, called . . . Digital Media Incubator.

"Looks like Mariana took three-quarters of the name with her," said Todd Fryling, new manager of the KPMG incubator.

Now Danilovic has revealed her first incubatee: MarsVenus.com, the digital alter-ego of New Age author John Gray. The self-help guru plans to fold much of his existing empire into the new Internet company, said MarsVenus.com Chief Executive Steve Grumer.

Digital Media Business Incubator and Digital Media Incubator have much in common. Both aim to nurture start-ups that create content, that is, attention-grabbing music, video and text.

Conflict-of-interest rules prevent Digital Media Business Incubator from owning stock in its incubatees. Digital Media Incubator is under no such restriction. DMI has a bigger upside for Danilovic than DMBI.

"That's why she left," said Fryling.

Danilovic formed Digital Media Incubator with George Schwartz, a San Diego investor. They plan to add one company a month to their incubator. In a typical arrangement, DMI would invest $500,000 in return for a stake in the start-up firm, Danilovic said.

MarsVenus.com, Grumer pointed out, is not typical. It isn't a start-up, and DMI (not to be confused with DMBI) invested more than $500,000 in Gray's venture, said Grumer. "We sort of blew their business plan," he said.

Grumer first approached KPMG and continued talks with Danilovic after she left the accounting and consulting firm, he said. Gray teamed with DMI for its expertise about the Internet and IPOs, said Grumer, adding that MarsVenus.com might eventually sell shares to the public.

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