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Businessweek Archives

Main Street's Access Road To The Web

Bits & Bytes


GIANT CORPORATIONS CAN afford to get on the Web, but what about pizza parlors, gas stations, and the local PTA? A company called CitySearch says it has a way for just about any organization to afford an on-ramp to the Information Highway. Pasadena (Calif.)-based CitySearch plans to develop Web sites for cities across the nation, listing community and school events, municipal regulations, and other useful information. Revenues would come from Web listings sold to local businesses for $29 to $89 a month.

To keep marketing costs down and build grassroots support, CitySearch plans to work closely with community organizations and hire local citizens to sell its services. Plus, it has developed a variety of preformatted Web pages so that merchants can get online quickly and stylishly, at low cost.

The company was co-founded by Bill Gross, the founder of educational software maker Knowledge Adventure Inc. Robert Kavner, who left AT&T as top computer executive in 1994 and joined Hollywood talent agents Creative Artists Agency Inc., was recently named chairman of the startup. Numerous competitors are pursuing the same market, including America Online Inc., Microsoft Corp., and telephone companies that have online yellow-page directories. The system has been tested in Pasadena, and the first full-scale launch is planned for Raleigh, N.C., in late May.EDITED BY IRA SAGER By John VerityReturn to top


REMEMBER WHEN PUNDITS were predicting the convergence of television and computers and wondering how we would cope with 500 channels of interactive cable? Well, that vision of the future is still the future. In the meantime, however, a different broadcast medium is hitting the I-way--radio. For a year or so, such companies as Seattle-based Progressive Networks Inc. have been making software that allows broadcasters to send audio streams across the Internet for computer owners to download and listen to at their convenience. Now, companies are starting to offer audio entertainment programs designed just for Netizens.

Progressive Networks is working on a service called Timecast, a sort of TV Guide for audio content that lets users preselect news, information, and radio broadcasts they would like to download to their computers. The service is expected to be available by summer.

A more ambitious effort is Netcast, a live-audio entertainment network for the Internet. Launched by New York-based startup Netcast Communications Corp., along with Lucent Technologies Corp., Netcast will feature 12 channels--including music, talk-show, sports, and news programs. The advertising-supported service will be available in the fall on the Internet and commercial online services.EDITED BY IRA SAGER By Amy CorteseReturn to top


THE MUCH-BALLYHOOED JOINT venture between Microsoft Corp. and DreamWorks SKG is finally getting ready to strut its stuff. On May 16, at the game-crazed Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, DreamWorks Interactive will unveil its first four CD-ROMs--though with only tentative titles and not-yet-firm delivery dates.

The new CD-ROMs range from an animated cookbook with 20 original songs for the kindergarten set, an edutainment adventure for grade-schoolers, and a slapstick animated-clay adventure game--DreamWorks used more than two tons of clay to create the scenes--targeting teen and adult players.

Best bet for a continuing series: Goosebumps: Escape from Horrorland, based on Scholastic Corp.'s best-selling Goosebumps books and television series. (Ask your 8-year-old.) DreamWorks--the parent--could use a hit. Its first TV series, Champs, was canceled halfway into the season, and another TV show, High Incident, is off to a sluggish start.EDITED BY IRA SAGER By Larry ArmstrongReturn to top

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