AD AGE'S CYBERMARKETING LEADERS

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Scott Kurnit

Age:41

Title:President of MCI/Delphi joint venture online service, New York

Bio:Born in New York City. B.A. in communications and sociology, Hampshire College, 1976.

Work history:Program director, WGBH, Springfield, Mass., 1976-79; director of Warner's QUBE programming and production, Columbus, Ohio, 1979-81; VP-programming and ad sales, Warner, New York, 1981-85; president, Viacom's Viewer's Choice Television, 1985-89; president, Showtime Event Television, 1989-93; exec VP-consumer products, marketing and development, Prodigy, 1993-95; current post, 1995-.

More than anything, Scott Kurnit is known for improving Prodigy's reputation in the commercial online marketplace.

Under his guidance, Prodigy attracted about 35 cable and broadcast networks to be content providers, changed its business model and beat the other online services to the World Wide Web by at least six months.

"With interactive media you've always got to be looking ahead to the future," said Mr. Kurnit. "Prodigy looked ahead to the Web, but the online services and providers better keep on looking further and further ahead, or they won't survive."

Ever since graduating from an experimental high school on Long Island, Mr. Kurnit has known how to think for himself.

"I chose to come to MCI because our visions are similar," he said. "It's the most aggressive Web-based company out there. And we both have a crisp view of what's happening online."

With more than 400 employees under his supervision, Mr. Kurnit probably answers close to 100 e-mails before 6 a.m.

"Right after beginning here I received an e-mail on Friday night, but I didn't answer it until Sunday," Mr. Kurnit said. "Boy, did I get chastised for that."

Now the stakes are even higher. Shortly after he joined MCI, that company and News Corp.'s Delphi decided to pool their online efforts into one service. Mr. Kurnit's new task is to meld MCI's fledgling Internet efforts, including internetMCI, marketplaceMCI and networkMCI, with Delphi, one of the oldest-and weakest-online services.

"The thing that's so cool about electronic mediums is that they blur the lines between consumer and business as well as work and play," said Mr. Kurnit. "Interactive media need to be void of boundaries and labels. The companies who are able to achieve that will be the ones who make it in this industry."

Betcha didn't know:Mr. Kurnit has been known to take his PowerBook out in his canoe to answer e-mail and do some work.

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