PointCast to shuffle board

The company is expected to restructure its board of directors, and sources say it is in investment talks with Time Warner and others.

Dawn Kawamoto Former Staff writer, CNET News
Dawn Kawamoto covered enterprise security and financial news relating to technology for CNET News.
Dawn Kawamoto
3 min read
PointCast Network is expected to announce Monday that it is restructuring its board of directors, and sources say the company is in talks with Time Warner and others about possible investments.

One source said Time Warner is considering a minority investment in the company that could be a sizable stake. News Corporation, which considered buying PointCast last year, should not be ruled out as a possible business partner either, the source said.

"PointCast recently came on the radar screen [for Time Warner]," another source said. "But Time Warner is just one of many that are looking at the company."

PointCast's so-called push technology, which broadcasts news and corporate information to users' desktops, has caught on much slower than some had expected. The company decided to withdraw its initial public offering last week.

Nevertheless, PointCast has drawn the attention of a large number of media companies, but only four of the potential suitors have the greatest potential for a strategic fit with PointCast, a source said.

"PointCast is looking at the media assets that interested parties have to offer," the source said. In return, a media company would gain another form of distribution for its content.

Meanwhile, Pointcast is looking to expand its expertise among its board of directors and next week is expected to announce three new directors, one of whom is a former media executive.

Jeff Cunningham, former group publisher at Forbes, and Dawn Lepore, chief information officer with discount brokerage Charles Schwab will join the board.

Steven Heyer, president and chief operating officer with Turner Broadcasting System joined the board in May.

Stepping down from the board will be Andrew Rachleff, a partner with Benchmark, the venture-capital firm that helped finance Pointcast. Rachleff was one of two PointCast board members from Benchmark, and he is stepping down in order to make room for other directors who will help diversify the board.

Lepore, who launched discount broker Charles Schwab's Web site and online trading technology, will bring technical experience to the board, and Cunningham will bring his media experience, said Jaleh Bisharat, PointCast's senior vice president of marketing.

Lepore said she wanted to serve on PointCast's board because she's "impressed" with Dorman and finds the operation to be more than a "pure technology" company.

"Yes, it's a technology company, but it's also about how the advent of the Internet is changing the advertising model, and it's about a broad array of other perspectives," she said.

Banking on her past experience as a chief information officer, Lepore said she will lend her advice on how PointCast can market itself to CIOs, who deal with how technology is deployed and supported on the corporate networks of their companies. A 15-year Schwab veteran, Lepore noted that she also has experience with fast-growing companies from which she can draw in advising the company.

Cunningham, who has helped run business operations at Forbes, said his media experience will help guide PointCast. He has handled all aspects of funding for the the publishing company's information business, which includes online subscription, advertising, sponsorship, and e-commerce.

The former media executive said he has known PointCast chief executive David Dorman for about ten years and finds him to be "a leader who knows how to drive a company." He calls himself PointCast's "biggest fan."

"Jeff and Dawn are a perfect balance. Dawn is a stunning technologist who understands data centers," Bisharat said. "Jeff knows how to sell advertising and build a media business based on advertising.... billions of [dollars in] advertising has been sold under Jeff [when he was at Forbes]."

Bisharat said Heyer's appointment also will bring PointCast further insight into the news and information business.

She said that the appointment of the new board members was not related to PointCast's talks with potential investors and suitors.

"You construct a board for the long-term value," Bisharat said. "And until the fat lady sings, we're still moving forward as an independent company."

These changes follow PointCast pulling its IPO plans earlier this month, in order to hold discussions about a strategic alliance with potential partners. PointCast did not identify those partners.

These discussions apparently began shortly after Disney said it would buy a minority stake in Infoseek.

The company in May filed an IPO registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, proposing a maximum offering of $51.75 million. The filing had come earlier than many analysts had expected.