A successor will be named by yearend. While Mr. Sagan wouldn't comment on potential candidates, he did say the person "needs to be very flexible. The service has gone from an unseen experiment to something that's very public."
Mr. Sagan was named to the post in January 1996 from senior VP, Time Inc. New Media; he joined Time Warner in 1991 to launch its cable news channel New York 1 News. He said he expects to do some consulting during the next year and a half, but that his main goal is to pursue "the family fantasy" of living in the mountains and traveling before his children are in junior high.
Of his five-year career at the company he said he was most proud of launching New York 1 News and of working on models for good online journalism at Pathfinder.
"Have we figured out the foolproof business model yet? No,"he said of the mega-site. "I think it's going to be a many-years march."
The site, which launched in October 1994, was criticized in its earliest formation for being vast and difficult to navigate. But after a site redesign, the formation of a relationship with NetGravity, which provides ad management technologies, and the inking of a deal with Open Market and CompuServe for a personalization product launching on CompuServe then on the Web on Nov. 18, the site has been through most of the Web's marketing rites of passage.
In 1995, the site brought in $2 million in ad revenues. In 1996, it's expected to bring in $6 million.
Earlier rumors had said Mr. Sagan would depart Time Inc. for a post at Turner Broadcasting System after that company's merger with Time Inc. But Mr. Sagan earlier this month pooh-poohed the talk.
There has also been speculation that the operations of Pathfinder and CNN Interactive would be combined, but Mr. Sagan denied that was the case. He said there are no plans to lay off staff or combine ad sales for the two Web ventures.
Copyright October 1996, Crain Communications Inc.