The Net pusher
By Jai Singh and Nick Wingfield
Staff Writers, CNET NEWS.COM
Mention the name Chris Hassett and the odds of getting a blank look are
The uninitiated can be forgiven, though. A search in
HotBot for the low-profile Chairman and CEO--of what could arguably be one
hottest companies of the year--turns up only 98 results. Contrast this with
10,184 references to Netscape VP Marc
But utter the word PointCast and faces light up with
recognition. People not only have heard of it, but over 1.5 million have
signed up to use the PointCast
SmartScreen software and information service--the PointCast Network--since
its launch in February.
Now Web publishers and developers alike are
rushing to embrace the "push" paradigm. Love it or hate it, PointCast has
made it fashionable in some circles to compare the Web to the dreaded boob
tube. And it's all because of Hassett.
That PointCast is grabbing more headlines than he is personally is just
fine with the 34-year-old Hassett. The self-possessed engineer (and
interestingly, licensed ham radio operator) knows the impact his vision and
product have had.
The number of people and companies who
suddenly want to be Hassett's "friend" is a testament to his industry
clout. Virtually everyone wants a piece of
PointCast: from Bill Gates himself to the hundreds of small content
providers who dream of their own PointCast channel.
If Marc Andressen made the difference in 1995, then it's Chris
Hassett?and his vision of broadcasting as a way to deliver
information--that made the difference in 1996.
For this we name him our Newsmaker of the Year.
NEWS.COM caught up with Hassett at PointCast's Santa Clara, California,
When you were coming up with the notion of Internet broadcasting was
there a real distinction in your mind between delivering ads and delivering
Hassett: I think a publisher looks at us as a very effective way of deploying his
content and his brand. It's fundamentally different than deploying through
the Web, which is much more like print where you deploy the entire context
of a news story.
But the problem you have now is how do you get somebody to know that A news
story is there? PointCast summaries of articles or breaking news comes out
on the screen, and to get the full text of what's going on there--once it's
got your attention--you click on it and it goes back to the Web in a
browser mode. So PointCast is integrating side-by-side with World Wide Web
browsing. I think publishers look at it differently and they absolutely
value it as a way of deploying their content; selling advertising, because
we're all in business to make money here; and augmenting and driving
traffic back to their World Wide Web sites. It's very complimentary.