New direction for Infoseek: Company taps CNN exec

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Infoseek Corp. Chairman Robin Johnson says the search engine company is "growing like a weed," despite the recent departure of several sales and marketing executives.

Although he conceded Infoseek's first-quarter revenues were flat compared with the fourth quarter, he said the company is adding more products and more staff.

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The hiring last week of Harry Motro, senior VP of CNN Interactive, as Infoseek's president represents the direction the company is heading, Mr. Johnson said.

"Harry's charter is to understand where the market is, where it might be going, which type of products would serve it best and how to build and market those products," Mr. Johnson said.

CNN hasn't named a successor.

"Motro joining Infoseek is a major endorsement for what the company is trying to do," said Shaun Andrikopoulos, an analyst with Alex. Brown & Sons. "The Infoseek opportunity is far from being realized."


Mr. Motro will work closely with Infoseek's new corporate information division, which focuses on building products that offer personalized news and information services to business users.

Mr. Johnson brushed off as coincidental the recent departures of sales and marketing executives Karl Spangenberg, Molly Ford, Brooks Fisher, Richard Ward and Jim Desrosier.

Mr. Spangenberg, formerly VP-worldwide advertising, is now president-CEO of startup @dPlan. Mr. Ward and Ms. Ford, West and East coast directors of advertising, respectively, both accepted sales positions with America Online.

Mr. Fisher, VP-advertising and marketing, now directs the Internet division at Intuit Corp. The plans of Mr. Desrosier, chief marketing officer, aren't known.


"Turnover in this industry is to be expected given that most employees, especially in sales, are incented by stock options," said Mr. Andrikopoulos. "But the mood at Infoseek is upbeat, and it seems like things are coming together there."

Infoseek had about $2.3 million in ad revenue in January, according to Jupiter Communications' AdSpend. Yahoo! had about $2.9 million; Lycos and Excite each hovered around $1.7 million.

Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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