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@Home: No layoffs after Excite deal done

@Home's CEO Tom Jermoluk rules out layoffs following the close of the Excite deal and refutes published reports of his impending departure.

SAN FRANCISCO--@Home Network chief executive Tom Jermoluk today ruled out layoffs following his company's acquisition of Excite and detailed the top management structure of the combined company, while refuting published reports of his impending departure.

Following an afternoon keynote address to the Macromedia user conference here, Jermoluk forcefully denied that @Home would lay off workers after Friday's expected shareholder approval of the acquisition.

"That is a definite 'no' on layoffs," Jermoluk told CNET News.com. "We're in a major hiring mode, and we've recently hired 400 people for the new company. There are absolutely no layoffs with this."

Analysts have speculated that @Home's rapid growth would keep it from having to lay off workers in the wake of the acquisition. The company has consistently said there would not be layoffs, but recent cutbacks at merger partners Netscape Communications and America Online, as well as expected layoffs at GeoCities by new owner Yahoo have raised questions about the @Home-Excite deal.

Jermoluk also elaborated on the roles he and Excite chief executive George Bell will play in the new organization. Jermoluk will be chairman and chief executive while Bell will be president, Jermoluk confirmed.

"Bell brings the media background and I'm a technologist," Jermoluk said. "We're very complementary in defining a strategy for the combined company. He's going to run the day-to-day operations, and I'm going to drive the increase in scope of the company, with new deals with affiliates, international operations, telephony. Obviously that takes a lot of time."

Jermoluk vociferously denied published reports that he would be stepping down as chief executive of the combined company, and that Bell would succeed him.

"It was completely wrong," Jermoluk said of the report. "I can unequivocally say that it was wrong...Putting George [Bell] in as president was 100 percent my idea and I have no intention of leaving the company. I took him around, sold the idea to the board, [and] created the office."

In his keynote address, Jermoluk preached his broadband religion to a group of users whose software of choice is known for working well in low-bandwidth environments. In the morning's keynote by Macromedia chief executive Rob Burgess, for example, the audience cheered a demonstration of a 3-D billiards game that weighed in at about 800 kbps (kilobits per second).

But Jermoluk lauded Macromedia today as a company that "gets" the idea of impending widespread broadband deployment. The companies today announced an alliance to integrate @Home's rich-media advertising software and Macromedia's Flash and Shockwave multimedia software.

@Home's alliance with Macromedia is typical of how the company will try to stimulate software development for its broadband subscribers, Jermoluk said--though acquisitions, such as those of Excite and rich-media advertising firm Narrative also will be part of the equation.

"Our job is to figure how to bundle up the right set of technologies to make this take off," Jermoluk said. "We bought Excite to get more people's attention, both advertisers and developers, because they can immediately see how they can display their offering by dealing with the same company, the same [research and development] team. We'll be moving in the same direction. I don't rule out more acquisitions, but partnerships will outweigh them."

Jermoluk also reiterated @Home's willingness to work with Road Runner, particularly once AT&T's merger with Road Runner co-owner MediaOne Group is completed. AT&T is @Home's largest shareholder.