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Excite bulks up management

As prepares to launch its secondary public offering, the company is bulking up its management team with four new senior executives.

As Excite (XCIT) prepares to launch its secondary public offering, the company today announced it is bulking up its management team with four new senior executives.

The executives fill newly created positions at Excite and bring television experience to a company that recently announced plans to switch channels toward a more mainstream approach to media and advertising--similar to the way television networks operate.

Last week, the company announced that it is building a series of channels into independent units, each managed by its own producer. Producers will also further expand the content like a television network.

Joining the company are Robert Hood as executive vice president, chief administrative and financial officer; William White, Jr. as senior vice president of marketing; Kenneth Wachtel as senior vice president, sales; and Jed Simmons as managing director, Excite International and senior vice president, Excite.

Hood, previously, was chief operating officer of RockShox. He will oversee all of Excite's finance, legal, and other administrative activities, including the pending consolidation of facilities into Excite's new headquarters in the Mid-Point Technology Park in Redwood City, California.

Wachtel, most recently, was vice president, news sales at CBS Television Network. He will lead Excite's advertising sales--the company's revenue generator--and oversee development of sponsorship, promotion, and other programs.

Most recently, Simmons was executive vice president, international for London-based Hanna-Barbera. Previously, he was at Turner Broadcasting. Simmons will leverage his extensive media background to manage the launches of country-specific Excite products and strategic international partnerships.

White was previously general manager and senior vice president of Sega Entertainment, a division of Sega of America, where he was responsible for Sega's entry into the PC CD-ROM market. He is responsible for the development and implementation of all marketing, advertising, promotional, and public relations campaigns for the Excite, WebCrawler, Excite City.Net, and Magellan brands.

"In these four executives, the combined professional experiences in high-tech finance, consumer marketing, broadcast sales, and international business development bring critical skills we need as we continue to grow," said George Bell, president and CEO of Excite, in a statement.

In the next few weeks, Excite will roll out 14 channels, starting with topics such as arts and entertainment, sports, business and investing, and computing and Internet. Each channel will contain news, directories, bulletin boards, chat, and search capabilities.

The new channel structure will allow advertisers to purchase spots that target specific groups and users. But, the news of the strategic switch did not interest investors, as the company's stock has been on the slide since early February after it peaked at 21-5/8.

Today, the company's stock was down about 9 percent from Friday's close of 14-5/8.

Excite filed for its secondary public offering on March 3, and underwriter Robertson, Stephens & Company, is now in a quiet period in which it will not comment on the company due to the upcoming offering.

"Excite's secondary offering may reenergize the sector," said David Menlow president of the New Jersey-based IPO Financial Network.

He added that Excite will be the first search engine company to offer a secondary public offering, and he expects the offering to take place in the latter part of April.

If Excite has a successful secondary offering, others, which are waiting for an indication of how investors feel about search companies, may follow.

Digital Equipment's search company, AltaVista, filed for a IPO last August, and company CFO Bob Hult said, "We are trying to get market timing right. There is no firm date, but it will be within next year."

Menlow said that as AltaVista waits for a correct valuation for its IPO, much of that depends on how investors receive the Excite offering.

But, there won't be a correct valuation until something breaks on Wall Street, and that will be with Excite, said Menlow. He added that if the Excite offering is well received, that would be the perfect opportunity for AltaVista to jump on the wagon.