Beaming a reply to his family through cyberspace, Mr. Price behaved exactly like the business consumers he'll target in his broad new role as exec VP-group president of MCI Communications Corp.'s Communications Services Group.
Named last week to the No. 3 post at MCI, Mr. Price in the new position will also play a key role in helping transform the No. 2 long-distance telephone carrier into a diversified marketer of communica-tions services ranging from voice to information, data and online.
To do so, the 12-year Washington-based MCI veteran plans to help keep MCI "out of the comfort zone." He said he'll push to develop an array of new products and marketing efforts designed to meet the broadening communication needs of the technology-savvy end users MCI sees as its future.
"It's important to stay uncomfortable-to keep pushing for the unknown and going in many directions that might involve risking mistakes," Mr. Price said.
There's not much chance of getting comfortable. MCI last week unveiled plans for an ambitious interactive media operation called internetMCI (see story on Page 22).
The announcement comes amid intense new competition in the fast-evolving online business, while MCI has run into trouble finding a partner to compete in the important global wireless communications market. No. 1 long-distance rival AT&T has also battled back recently with effective advertising and marketing. AT&T has about 62% of the $74 billion long-distance market; MCI, 20%.
But true to the entrepreneurial spirit one of his mentors, the late MCI founder William G. McGowan, Mr. Price says MCI must evolve beyond long-distance.
"By the year 2000, less than half of our revenues will come from long-distance; the rest will be diversified communications services and software," Mr. Price said.
MCI's marketing, including ads from Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, will target the hybrid audience of business consumers.
During Mr. Price's tenure MCI went from being "a gnat on AT&T's windshield" to a $14 billion company, largely due to innovative marketing and product branding efforts he helped shape.
"It's marketing-not technology, which is easily replicated-that's making the biggest difference in the telecommunications business these days," Mr. Price said.