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AOL names Netcenter manager

America Online moves to plug a significant hole in the administration of its Web business by naming a general manager of Netscape Netcenter.

America Online today announced it has moved to plug a significant hole in the administration of its Web business by naming a general manager of Netscape Netcenter.

As previously reported, AOL has tapped Jim Martin to the post of senior vice president and general manager of its newly acquired Netcenter portal.The post was vacated last month by Mike Homer, currently on sabbatical. Homer resigned from Netcenter despite his stated intention of returning to AOL.

Martin, who will take over the position on June 21, will report to Barry Schuler, president of AOL Interactive Services. Martin previously led International Data Group units including Computerworld, InfoWorld Media Group, and Macworld Communications.

Martin will be in charge of Netcenter's content programming, product and service development, operations, and sales and marketing. He is expected to pick up where Homer left off in building Netcenter's audience, which attracted AOL because it peaks during the day. Traffic to AOL's proprietary service peaks in the evening.

"[Martin] will lead the expansion of services and audience for the popular Netscape Netcenter, and under his guidance, Netcenter will be a vital part of AOL's family of brands, leveraging the advantages of AOL's infrastructure and becoming an even more powerful daytime brand," said Schuler in a statement.

Since Homer's sabbatical and resignation as head of Netcenter, Netscape's portal has kept a relatively low profile as Virginia-based Schuler governed it from afar. Observers now will look to Martin to see what kind of game plan AOL has to broaden its audience, as well as how much emphasis the portal will put on integration with Netscape's Communicator browser.

Communicator has suffered setbacks in market share in recent months. But Netcenter has grown by 60 percent over the last six months, according to AOL, suggesting that Netcenter may be able to weather further Communicator market share erosion.