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Several high-level Excite@Home execs to depart

Several high-level employees plan to leave the high-speed Internet access provider, raising questions about employee commitment to the company's new growth strategy.

Several senior Excite@Home executives plan to leave the high-speed Internet access provider, raising questions about employee commitment to the company's new growth strategy amid faltering stock performance.

Adam Grosser, president of subscriber networks, announced his resignation this week. And senior vice president and general counsel David Pine plans to leave in June for a position at handheld computer maker Handspring, Excite@Home spokeswoman Melissa Walia confirmed.

The executive departures come as the company has reorganized around three business groups, two of them new. The revised corporate structure reflects Excite@Home's intention of targeting three primary markets for its high-speed Net access business: residential consumers, commercial Net access and international markets.

The moves are a result of the company's plan, announced last month amid sub-par financial results, to favor growth over profits in the short term.

Grosser, who has spent nearly four years at the company and has overseen Excite@Home's cornerstone cable-modem service since September, could not immediately be reached for comment. His future plans are unknown, although Walia said he would continue to consult for the company through the summer.

Executive vice president Brett Bullington, employee No. 9 at Excite, also plans to significantly reduce his workload, though he may be called in to help with major deals in the future, Walia confirmed.

Todd Harmon, vice president of finance for the media and marketing unit, has resigned or intends to leave shortly, according to sources. Pine, Bullington and Harmon couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The departure of managers from Excite@Home comes at a particularly crucial time for the company. It is in the process of revamping its strategy, agressively targeting broadband services, under the recently increased leadership of AT&T.

Stock in the company has been depressed for months, and executives hope their newfound growth strategy will prove successful as the adoption of high-speed Net access takes off. Encouraging investor confidence could be difficult if more senior executives continue to leave, however.

Excite@Home executives intend to focus primarily on developing content and services for high-speed, or "broadband," connections over narrowband services such as the portal. The company plans to invest heavily in the next year in broadband services for consumers, businesses and international markets--hence the three business units.

The company's new growth strategy and its ailing stock could be contributing to the executive shift. Excite@Home shares are trading in the teens, near their 52-week low, after rising as high as $83.13 in the past year. Executives' incentive stock options therefore are worth far less than they once were.

Walia said any company of Excite@Home's size undergoes constant change, particularly in the rapidly evolving Internet-driven economy. Excite@Home has nearly 2,500 employees, so a handful of mid-level executive changes shouldn't be terribly surprising, she said.

"The Internet economy is a dynamic place, and four years anywhere is a long time," Walia said. "I think we're putting together an organizational structure that lets us grow even faster."

Previously, Excite@Home had been aligned under two business units predominantly focused on content and Net access. Ben Addoms served as president of media and marketing services, where he largely oversaw the content businesses. Grosser was charged with managing the consumer cable-modem service and @Work business units.

To populate the see story: AT&T consolidates control over Excite@Homenew structure, the company this week promoted Byron Smith to executive vice president of consumer broadband services and Mark O'Leary to executive vice president of business solutions.

Smith, a former AT&T executive, most recently served as general manager for subscriber networks at Excite@Home and will oversee the company's cable-modem service, marketing efforts and cable operator partnerships. Smith will effectively fill many of Grosser's duties.

O'Leary previously was senior vice president of the company's @Work business unit and will manage the company's commercial Net access offerings. Both will report directly to chief executive George Bell, who himself replaced former CEO Tom Jermoluk in January.

John O'Farrell will continue in his current capacity as senior vice president of the company's international unit.