Where will Paul Allen get his online news, Microsoft/NBC's MSNBC or Disney/Starwave's ABCNews.com? Allen is the founder and largest shareholder of Starwave, which sold a stake to Disney and allied with Mickey Mouse to start ABC's Web news. Allen also is co-founder, No. 2 shareholder and board member at Microsoft. Maybe a better question: How's Allen going to juggle boardroom discussions at Microsoft and Starwave about the competing ventures? Will he play Minesweeper on his PC while other board members are locked in debate? Allen aide Susan Pierson won't say exactly how Allen avoids conflict, but she says the boss is expert at coping with the issue: Allen owns stakes in more than 35 tech and entertainment companies. "Most technology companies will always compete with Microsoft on some level," Pierson says. "If your goal would be not to compete with Microsoft, you would not be doing a lot of outside investing. You probably wouldn't be doing any."
Quotations from Chairman Bill
Soon after Microsoft bought a small stake in WebTV last fall, Bill Gates advised caution about the market for WebTV and other non-computer Web devices. "How much volume is there in those platforms?" he asked. "Even though we're doing more software for them than anybody else, we have a more realistic view of what it really takes." Realistic as in the $425 million Microsoft paid last week to buy the rest of WebTV.
LeRoy now has some wiggle room
LeRoy, N.Y., birthplace of Jell-O, is getting its just desserts: a Jell-O museum, which Kraft opens in June to honor the gelatin's 100th anniversary. Highlight of the gala opening: a "Jell-O brick road" leading inside. Jell-O also this year makes its debut in Macy's Thanksgiving Parade with a float execs promise will move and wiggle at the same time.
Costas pitches ad career
NBC broadcaster Bob Costas is having second thoughts about whether his appearance in a TV Guide commercial was appropriate for a journalist. "I'm not so sure I made the right decision . . . ," he tells cable channel CBS Eye on People in an interview running April 17. "Though this was, I think, a well-done commercial and I enjoyed doing it, it's probably the last one you'll see me do."
Hemp beer . . . Delayed to 4A's
Frederick Brewing Co. of Maryland April 28 unveils Hempen Ale, billed as the first beer brewed with hemp seeds. It doesn't contain the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana, but Frederick promises a "mellow" flavor and aroma. . . . Now that Digital Equipment Corp. has put all marketing under former PC chief Bruce Claflin, DEC agency insiders bet it will consolidate media buying on the $110 million account, currently split between corp. agency DDB/NY and PC shop Y&R /NY. . . . Jordan McGrath prez and 4A's vice chair Pat McGrath made it to the 4A's Fla. confab just fine. But Pat's wife Pat was delayed: She had to catch a later flight because she didn't have her photo ID.
Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from Judann Pollack and Pat Sloan.
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