In Business This Week: Headliner
Douglas McCorkindale: USA Today, Tomorrow...?
Look for Douglas McCorkindale to burnish his rep as a savvy dealmaker when he becomes CEO of Gannett, owner of USA Today and 73 other dailies. The 29-year Gannett veteran will succeed John Curley on June 1 and become chairman next year when Curley gives up that title.
With Gannett's free cash flow this year running at about $800 million, McCorkindale, 60, could add to the Arlington (Va.) media giant's highly profitable portfolio of regional papers and TV stations, says analyst Peter Appert of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. Possibilities include newspapers owned by Thomson and New York Times Co.
McCorkindale may also do some shopping in cyberspace. Gannett recently agreed to invest $270 million in ZapMedia.com, an Atlanta developer of TV set-top boxes that let users download movies and music off the Net. Says Appert: "Given the carnage in Internet land, there's ample opportunity for traditional media companies like Gannett to pick up the pieces."By Amy Borrus in Washington, D.C.Return to top
The FDA Gets into Foodmakers' Genes
Gene-spliced foods are about to get more scrutiny. On May 3, the Food & Drug Administration said it will require biotech companies to notify the agency and get a response before they can bring genetically altered crops to market. The agency is also proposing to post on its Web site the details of how products were tested and evaluated. Industry execs and FDA officials hope the new initiatives will allay growing public fears that the new foods aren't safe or sufficiently tested. At the same time, the FDA will allow foodmakers to voluntarily label their products as being free of gene-spliced ingredients--as long as the labels don't misleadingly imply that the stuff is in some way better or safer. But critics want far more testing of gene-altered crops and mandatory labeling of altered products.Edited by Anne NewmanReturn to top
AltaVista Starts Its Engine
With a name like Raging Search, can AltaVista get back its edge in the Internet search engine and portal game? On May 4, AltaVista introduced Raging Search to beat back such highly praised engines as Google and Northern Light. It's just the latest turn in AltaVista's Net saga, which began in 1995 when it was created as a search engine at Digital Equipment. Passed from DEC to Compaq in 1999, AltaVista morphed into a portal before incubator CMGI bought an 83% stake and set it on the road to an IPO. But forget those plans. Outspent and outgunned in acquisitions, AltaVista has dropped from 10th to 12th among most-visited Web properties. Now it's time to double back and protect the flank.Edited by Anne NewmanReturn to top
Things Could Go Better at Coke
As a place to work, Coke just hasn't been it lately. The Atlanta soda giant has seen worker morale hobbled by a high-profile discrimination suit, a restructuring that cut 40% of headquarters jobs, and slumping shares that have rendered many employee stock options worthless. But CEO Douglas Daft unveiled a plan on May 2 to lift morale. Among the new perks: A "Founders Day" holiday each May, cash prizes for the best employee suggestions, and "summer hours" that let workers out at noon each Friday. Given Coke's low stock price, Daft also plans to let workers take more of their compensation in cash rather than options.Edited by Anne NewmanReturn to top