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Telecom exec to head PointCast

The push technology company names former telecom executive David Dorman as its new president and chief executive.

PointCast today named former telecom executive David Dorman as its new president and chief executive officer.

The push technology company has searched for a CEO since June, as it looked to bolster its management ranks with a seasoned executive who could help expand the company's business. Dorman, 43, will take over the roles formerly held by Chris Hassett, cofounder, who will become chairman.

The selection of its CEO also comes at a crucial time as PointCast finds itself surrounded by big players that have recently entered the push arena.

Although the company previously had indicated it was seeking a media executive, it pulled from the ranks of the telecom industry. Dorman previously served as chairman, CEO and president of Pacific Bell before its parent company merged with SBC Communications last year.

Despite his background from a different industry, Dorman has experience with start-ups and multibillion-dollar companies, as well as the Internet, said Kevin Harvey, a PointCast board member and partner at Benchmark Capital, a PointCast investor.

"We did look in terms of finding someone from the media or technology industries and picked the strongest candidate, which was Dave," Harvey said. "He has managed hundreds of millions of dollars in a media budget with his former companies and knows technology. We needed someone who could understand both worlds."

He added that Dorman was selected from fewer than five serious candidates.

Jim Barksdale, chief executive of Netscape Communications, said Dorman will fit the bill "just fine" as PointCast's CEO, even though he comes from a different industry.

"Dave has a good understanding of products and the Internet. He was one of the largest ISPs with Pacific Bell. He has a good toolset," said Barksdale, who also came from a telecom background, having been chief executive of AT&T's Wireless Services before taking the helm at Netscape.

Dorman most recently served as executive vice president at SBC following its merger with Pacific Telesis Group, Pacific Bell's parent company. SBC is a $16.5 billion telecommunications company, while Pacific Bell boosted revenues of $9.5 billion with its service to 10 million homes in California and Nevada.

The former telco executive served more than three years at Pacific Bell, where he formed the first Internet access provider at a Baby Bell. And during a previous 13-year tenure with Sprint, he spearheaded the first commercial customer project for Internet access with the federal government. Dorman joined Sprint when it was a start-up and rose from a sales position to president of Sprint Business, taking it from a $5 million company to a $4.5 billion corporation.

"The media, the Internet, and its use for news and information and bringing that to the desktop make it one of the most compelling new mediums for this century," Dorman said.

He said he was looking to make a career change to the Silicon Valley and wanted to find a company that had "a big market, big growth...a very early-stage company."

And although he was initially contacted last summer about the PointCast post, it was not until this last month that Dorman decided to resign from SBC. He said he accepted the deal with PointCast last night.

PointCast, a pioneer in push technology, aggregates information from various content providers from the New York Times to CNN and pushes them to individual desktops. The company, founded in 1992, provides news and information to viewers and corporations through the Internet and companies' intranets with its PointCast Network.

But PointCast is facing major competition these days from Microsoft's IE 4.0 and Netscape Communications' Netcaster, its push software. Smaller push companies are nipping at PointCast's heels as well.

Hassett, in a previous interview, had said that PointCast has a critical window of opportunity to establish itself as the market leader.

Dorman said he will focus on three areas: rapidly growing the subscriber base, improving the editorial content, and offering more personalized information.

PointCast has more than 1 million subscribers a day, and Dorman said he wants to concentrate on boosting the number of corporate customers using its network through their intranets.

In the editorial area, Dorman wants to further define topics grouped around particular subjects, such grouping health care news with medical professionals.

With this focus, Dorman is looking to push ahead what has been revenues that have grown "robustly" and to place the company on an initial public offering track that may come within a year.

"I think we have a business that we could do it now if we wanted, but I'd like to counsel with the board," Dorman said. "I want to see if they want to make further investments in the company that push the IPO further down the stream."