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Excite@Home Exec Replaces Chairman

Management: Thomas Jermoluk will remain on the board but CEO George Bell takes over his post.

May 09, 2000|From Bloomberg News

Excite@Home Corp. said Chief Executive George Bell replaced Thomas Jermoluk as chairman after shares of the high-speed Internet access provider dropped 78% in the last year.

Jermoluk, 43, handed the chairmanship to Bell, 43, late last week, though he will remain a board member, the company said. Jermoluk turned over his position at a board meeting, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The firm said Jermoluk "played a critical role in shaping the company" and it is entering a "new phase of growth" with Bell. The move comes after the Redwood City, Calif.-based company said last month that it expected operating losses for the rest of the year.

"George Bell has been effectively running the company for a while," said Chase H&Q analyst David Levy, who has a "buy" rating on Excite@Home shares. "This is not a completely unexpected maneuver."

Last month, the company reported that its first-quarter loss widened and that expenses tripled. Excite@Home reported earnings and sales that were less than analysts expected.

Shares of Excite@Home fell 44 cents to $17.50 on Nasdaq. They've dropped 59% since Jan. 1 on concern the company's goals didn't mesh with those of its cable partners.

Excite@Home's largest shareholder, AT&T Corp., said in March that it would increase its voting stake while partners Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. said they would let Excite@Home deliver Internet content on their cable TV lines beyond June 2002.

Jermoluk plans to work closely with start-up companies but hasn't decided whether he will invest on his own or join a venture capital firm, said his spokesman, Matt Wolfrom.

"He's considering many options," Wolfrom said.

Bell, who had been CEO of Web-search directory Excite Inc. before At Home Corp. bought the company, replaced Jermoluk as chief executive in January. At Home and Excite merged a year ago.

Excite@Home added about 350,000 subscribers in the first quarter and has a total of 1.5 million. That's halfway to its goal of 3 million by year's end.

Jermoluk will continue to work closely with Jim Clark, co-founder of Netscape Communications and other Internet start-ups. The two are partners in Helix Ventures, which invests their personal wealth in start-ups.

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