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Kertzman to head NCI

Network Computer Incorporated names former Sybase chief Mitchell Kertzman to be its president, CEO, and a member on its board of directors.

Network Computer Incorporated today announced it has named Mitchell Kertzman to be its president and CEO, as well as a member on its board of directors.

Kertzman, who joins NCI from software maker Sybase, where he was chairman of the board, will first try to expand NCI's product reach around the world.

The company markets Internet-equipped boxes to cable and phone companies that plan to provide Internet services to their clients. NCI also makes software that helps bring to life the capacity of ordinary digital devices to connect people to the information they need and to connect information appliances to each other, according to the firm.

NCI is a privately held company that was founded in 1996, and whose primary investors include Oracle and Netscape Communications.

NCI is the brainchild of Oracle chairman Larry Ellison, who has long touted the concept of the network computer, a stripped-down PC that relies on powerful computer servers for its data and software programs.

In recent months, however, NCI has focused more on getting its software in the set-top boxes, devices that let consumers surf the Web, pay bills, and do email through their televisions.

David Roux who had been serving as NCI's CEO will become its chairman. In this capacity, he will continue to be active in the company's strategic direction, financing, and strategic relationships. Roux is also executive vice president of development at Oracle.

"NCI is out of the starting gate," Roux said in a statement. "Mitchell has the entrepreneurial drive, technical excellence, and marketing skill to move this company down the track."

Kertzman, 49, has been a major force in the software business for decades. He was named president and CEO of Sybase in 1997 and helped bring the company back into the black. Prior to this position, Kertzman was the founder and CEO of Powersoft, an enterprise applications firm. Sybase acquired Powersoft in 1995. Kertzman also founded Computer Solutions in 1974.

"NCI presents a unique opportunity in an emerging market: a young company with powerful partners and spectacular technology," Kertzman said in a statement. "The opportunity is to have an impact on the information appliance market analogous to the impact Powersoft had on the client server marketplace."

NCI credited Roux with helping to sharpen its product and marketing focus to provide Internet-enabling software to three market segments, including enterprise, enhanced television, and embedded systems.

Over the past nine months the company has clinched partnerships in the embedded systems market with Wind River Systems and Fujitsu; in the enhanced TV market beating Microsoft to a deal with Belgium's telephone company, Belgacom, for its new CyberTV service. NCI has also cut deals with Britain's Cable & Wireless, and four of the largest Internet service providers in Japan. NCI expects to announce additional agreements with several multinational hardware providers in the coming weeks.

Also, Sybase announced today that it has named its president and CEO John Chen as its chairman of the board. Chen will remain president and CEO, continuing to be responsible for day-to-day operations, and corporate strategy, as well as increasing shareholder value and enhancing product and service offerings.

Kertzman is currently a director of CNET: The Computer Network, publisher of News.com.