Main Street's Access Road To The Web

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.

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