Sealey to head marketing for Sony/Visa Web venture

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Sony Corp. of America and Visa International will create a Web-based entertainment environment that takes online experiences to a new level and marks the return of Peter Sealey, former president of Interactive Network and global marketing chief at Coca-Cola Co.

Sony and Visa, in conjunction with marketing agency CKS Group, Cupertino, Calif., are developing Sony Station, a series of themed, three-dimensional ``pavilions'' representing various Sony units. Mr. Sealey, executive consultant to both Sony and CKS, will oversee marketing for Sony Station, which is scheduled opens in early 1996.

``This is unlike any Web site you've seen before,'' said Michael Beindorff, exec VP-marketing and product management, Visa USA. He described it as ``somewhere between a virtual mall and a virtual theme park.''

Sony and CKS plan to use a variety of technologies including Macromedia's Shockwave, Sun Microsystems' Java and VRML to redesign Sony's existing Web site into something that is more like an environment than a series of pages.

The pavilions will cover various Sony units, including electronics, music, movies, licensing and theaters.

Under the multiyear agreement, Visa will provide secure electronic payment software so consumers can make purchases. Visa's site will hyperlink to the Sony site. Mr. Beindorff said the secure technology, being developed by Visa and Microsoft Corp., will be commercially available by first quarter 1996.

Both Visa and CKS contributed financially to the venture, which hopes to generate revenue from taking advertising, charging for content downloads, interactive games and sales of merchandise.

Advertising pricing hasn't been set yet, but Mr. Sealey said the venture would consider taking ads from competitors to Sony. Whether competitors will buy ads isn't a sure thing.

``Advertising is going to be the largest single source of revenue,'' Mr. Sealey said.

Sony Station has been in development for six months; it was originally designed for a commercial online service environment. Visa joined the party in August, after it expressed interest in advertising on Sony's site.

The venture is spearheaded by Mitchell Cannold, president of Sony New Technologies; Matt Rothman, VP-general manager, Sony Online; Mark Kvamme, president-CEO of CKS Group; Mr. Beindorff; and Todd Chaffee, senior VP-advanced payment systems, Visa International.

Mr. Sealey left Interactive Network, a startup company marketing a play-along interactive TV system, a year ago. Since then he has been a consultant to Digital Pictures, a San Mateo, Calif., software company.

Copyright November 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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