Pointcast looks for new CEO en route to IPO

PointCast has announced a range of new push tools - and acknowledged it is searching for a new CEO in anticipation of an initial public stock offering. The toolset replaces the existing PointCast I-Server that companies used to broadcast internal news to employees via the PointCast Network. I-Server, which sold for US$995, will now be available for free.

PointCast has announced new push tools and acknowledged it is searching for a new CEO in anticipation of an initial public stock offering.

PointCast, a pioneer in push technology, has retained Ramsey/Beirne Associates to find a more seasoned executive to replace Chris Hassett, who led the company for the past five years and will remain on as chairman.

Under Hassett, 34, Pointcast grew to 265 employees and enticed more than a million Internet users to try its software, which delivers news updates to the desktop when the viewer's screen is idle.

"Chris has done a good job, and we're not making this change to get somebody who's just good," says Jonathan Feiber, a member of PointCast's board of directors. "We're getting somebody who's got to be great. I think the company's really pushing to grow as quickly as it can and to expand."

Pointcast also recently brought in a new chief financial officer, Phil Koen,who led Etec Systems through its IPO.

Company officials won't speculate on the timing of the IPO. "We just don't know for certain whether it'll be this year or next," Feiber says, conceding the IPO itself isn't definite.

In product news, PointCast announced three new tools - Corporate Broadcast Manager, Caching Manager and Administrator - that will help companies customise and manage the broadcast of both internal corporate and external news via any standard Web server.

With the Corporate Broadcast Manager, a company can deliver content from intranet Web servers, corporate database and Lotus Notes applications through a private channel. The Caching Manager lets administrators manage the external information that's being pushed through their corporate firewalls. And the new Administrator lets network managers configure PointCast installations for their employees as well as control the content that's broadcast over their private channel.

Beta versions of the free tools will be available in the next several months for Windows 95 and Windows NT. Caching manager releases for HP/UX and Sun Solaris will follow later this year.

The toolset replaces the existing PointCast I-Server that companies used to broadcast internal news to employees via the PointCast Network. I-Server, which sold for US$995, will now be available for free.

The beta of the company's new client, PointCast Network Version 2.0, also can be downloaded free from the company's Web site.

The new faster, 32-bit client supports open Web broadcasting via a new "superchannel" called PointCast Connections, which lets any Web site broadcast its content through the PointCast Network. The client runs on Windows 95 and Windows NT and features native integration with Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer Web browser. It also supports Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator browser.

A 16-bit version on Windows 3.1 is due later this month.

The Cupertino, California-based company also released a beta of a new content creation tool, PointCast Studio, that lets companies build animated commercials and customized screens that appear whenever the user's computer is idle.

An Added Control client, also due in the next several months for beta testing, will let companies screen out advertising.

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