RIBERO GETS HIGHER-POWER THRILLS FROM SEGA

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Sega of America marketing chief Michael A. Ribero says he's addicted to thrills.

That's why he left the cozier environs of Hilton Hotel Corp. for Sega earlier this year as it headed into the uncharted waters of higher-power new videogame systems facing daunting competition from all sides, including newcomer Sony Corp.

"It's a rush-like being on a freight train at maximum speed, with no idea where the end of the tunnel will be," said Mr. Ribero, 39, Sega's exec VP-marketing. He arrived in February, succeeding Edward Volkwein, who moved to senior VP-marketing at Philips Consumer Electronics.

Earlier this month, Mr. Ribero enjoyed shocking competitors with the announcement that Sega would ship its upgraded new 32-bit Saturn videogame player immediately in the U.S., four months ahead of schedule.

His plan is to wipe out Nintendo of America, whose next-generation videogame system is due in April, with speed. Sony's PlayStation will arrive this fall, as 3DO Co. and other videogame and PC marketers turn up the heat in electronic entertainment.

Mr. Ribero was bitten by the bug of high-energy entertainment marketing over the past six years as senior VP-marketing of Hilton's highly competitive hotel and casino gaming business.

"The connection between my work at Hilton and Sega is entertainment, which is really the essence of marketing," he said. "The goal is to continually satisfy the pleasure center of the consumer's brain, using all the tools you can possibly imagine."

Another lesson he learned in Hilton's hotels and casinos: The entire family must be entertained if you want to keep them interested. So Mr. Ribero's biggest goal this year is to move beyond Sega's typically young, male audience to bring far more females and adults into Sega's marketing picture.

"We have to make Sega more interesting than your TV set or your PC could ever be, and that goes for consumers of all ages and genders," he said.

A self-described "hyperactive nut" who loves videogames and competition, Mr. Ribero moves, walks and talks at a dizzying speed and relaxes by Rollerblading with his pre-teen-age children and his wife.

"We live a crazy life, but we have more energy than most folks, so it's relaxing for us to be out running around playing."

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Michael A. Ribero

BORN: May 16, 1956, Miami.

EDUCATION: B.S., operations research and industrial engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, 1979.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Rose to senior VP, marketing and strategic planning at Hilton Hotel Corp., where he served from 1988 until early this year. Previously a senior marketing executive with Procter & Gamble Co. from 1979-85; prior to that, VP-marketing programs, Eastern Airlines.

PERSONAL: Married to Brenda; children Michael, 11, and Kristen, 8. Lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

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