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Paul Allen infuses Oxygen with $100 million

The Microsoft cofounder's Vulcan Ventures takes a $100 million minority stake in Oxygen Media, marking the latest investment in the flourishing for-women-only programming space.

Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures took a $100 million minority stake in Oxygen Media today, marking the latest investment in the flourishing for-women-only programming space.

Oxygen's preliminary Web site already is live, and its 24-hour sister cable channel is slated to launch next February.

Under the deal, Oxygen's TV channel will be carried by Allen's Charter Communications, Oxygen: Women at center of convergenceone of the fastest-growing cable operators in the nation, with 2.3 million current subscribers and agreements in the works to acquire 3.6 million more.

"We think [founder Geraldine] Laybourne and her partners in Oxygen are uniquely situated to harness the power and promise of convergence for women," William Savoy, president of Vulcan Ventures, said in a statement.

Hollywood and Silicon Valley are hawking Oxygen's every move in large part because of the talented and powerful cast behind the project, including Laybourne, former president of Disney-ABC cable networks and Nickelodeon; Oprah Winfrey; and the partners of Carsey-Werner-Mandabach, creators of TV hits such as the Cosby Show and Roseanne.

Oxygen is working hard to build up its cable carriage deals, which are critical for reaching its goal to build a fully converged media empire and brand that serves the broad, but highly lucrative, female demographic.

The company also landed an agreement with MediaOne Group on Monday that will offer the Oxygen network to its more than 1 million subscribers. Oxygen will distribute programming through AT&T's cable systems and Tele-Communications Incorporated, as well.

"Vulcan Ventures' investment is a powerful endorsement of our strategy to build a convergence brand for women that combines the best features of cable television and the Internet," Oxygen's Laybourne said in a statement.