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Sculley ventures into big picture

Live Picture chairman John Sculley has his fingers in the pies of several small companies, most in the digital imaging and video business.

    NEW YORK--Both figuratively and literally, Live Picture chairman John Sculley is heavily invested in the big picture.

    The former Pepsi and Apple chief who calls himself a "venture catalyst" has his fingers in the pies of several small companies, most in the digital-imaging and video business. In the first half of his Internet World speech here today, titled "Venture Breakout Strategies," Sculley outlined the four keys to his investment strategy: Look for large potential markets, look for technologies that will fundamentally change business or social scenarios, make sure you can build relationships with "first-tier partners," and look for excellent management teams.

    It also helps to be well-connected. Sculley's brother, Arthur, is former head of worldwide private banking for J.P. Morgan, and the two have jointly invested in companies such as Intralinks, of which Arthur is the chairman.

    Sculley spent the second half of his speech touting the digital-imaging work of Live Picture, a 150-person company spearheading the transmission and viewing of high-resolution images on the Web. In addition to developing client and server software, Live Picture has partnered with Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and others to produce the Flash Pix format, which allows users to zoom in on images without losing resolution.

    "Multimedia hasn't really happened yet," he said. "It's more like decorations on Web pages."

    Sculley said 1998 will be the year that multimedia becomes pervasive on the Net.

    "A year from now, the Web will be more like TV, but controllable by the end user."

    He demonstrated tools that allow the viewing of high-resolution images at 28.8 kbps, with effects such as panoramic, 3-D, and zoom viewing, but he acknowledged that services that require video, such as online shopping catalogs, won't take off until high-bandwidth delivery is pervasive.