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New CEO, move for Deja News

The archiving pioneer taps entrepreneur Tom Phillips, former president of ESPN Internet Ventures and founder of Spy magazine.

Deja News, the Internet company that has grown from a newsgroup archiving business to a full-fledged portal based on the Net's bulletin boards, is moving its headquarters from the Lone Star State to the Big Apple and picking up a new chief executive along the way, the company announced today.

Tom Phillips, a self-described media entrepreneur, who founded the magazine Spy and in September resigned as president of ESPN Internet Ventures, began his job as CEO of Deja News today.

He is replacing Guy Hoffman, who decided to stay in Austin, Texas, with his family, rather than moving with the company to New York, according to a spokeswoman for the company.

The move to New York is intended to bring the company closer to the country's publishing hub as well as Silicon Alley, a thriving new media center.

Phillips said in an interview today that he hopes to make Deja News, long known as a gold mine of information to more experienced Net users, a leader among sites that use user-generated material.

Founded in May 1995, Deja News started as a searchable service that archived the Net's bulletin boards, its Usenet Newsgroups. Today it has developed into a full-fledged site offering a Web interface to newsgroups as well as free email for users to post messages.

Its competitors include other like sites--and probably more importantly--any site that touts itself as a community, which these days, is just about every site.

But while the site is well known among experienced users, it has not developed as well-known a brand as say, Yahoo, Excite, or even home builder sites such as GeoCities.

Phillips hopes to change all that, although with only two hours of experience as the chief operator at the company, he hadn't formulated specific plans.

"I view Deja News as one of the great opportunities on the Internet," he said. "Deja News has the opportunity to be the unequivocal leader in meaningful user-generated content. It has a great position now because of its technology. It has market momentum. It needs to capitalize on that."

It also has cash on hand to market itself, he added.

"It's been mostly an underground property heretofore," he said. "I think there's a great opportunity to make it a mass media in Internet terms."