BackWeb lets sites deliver custom info

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BackWeb lets sites deliver custom info

Backweb Technologies, a year-old software company, today launches new Internet technology, and already touts clients including General Motors Corp., Infoseek Corp., Ziff Davis Publishing and The Wall Street Journal.

The BackWeb client-server system from the San Jose, Calif., upstart allows its clients to build online broadcast channels to deliver customized information requested by their customers.

With technology similar to off-line delivery service the PointCast Network, the requested data is downloaded during a user's idle Net connection time. Once the data has been fully transmitted, the user is notified with an on-screen icon and the data will be delivered in any of a number of formats, including video, animation and screensavers.

"We believe a product like this is going to have mass media penetration," said Eli Barkat, CEO and president of BackWeb Technologies. "It might be as big as the Web."

BackWeb charges a minimum of $10,500 for an annual base license fee. The company then charges a scaleable monthly fee based on the number of BackWeb presentations a channel offers. So fees for high-volume users could easily surpass $100,000 annually.


GM launches its channel today in connection with its sponsorship of Ken Burns' latest epic, "The West," an 8-part PBS series that started Sunday night. GM's channel will be accessible via "The West" area of GM's site. Cybersurfers can sign up for a free subscription to GM's channel, said Larry Lozon, senior VP-director of GM's new Cyberworks unit, Warren, Mich. Subscribers must fill out a short personal profile on their screens, which will then serve to enhance GM's database.

While its first use of BackWeb will be to send supplementary information from "The West" like maps and transcripts from the documentary, GM plans to do more one-to-one marketing related directly to its automobiles.

"A customer can ask us to tell them when a particular automobile is launched. [Once it's launched], the automobile can zip by on their screen" alerting them that their desired information has arrived, Mr. Lozon said.


GM learned of BackWeb via San Francisco-based CKS Interactive, which is among a handful of agencies and developers selling the technology for BackWeb and helping to train clients.

The Wall Street Journal is still building its channel, which should be active in a few weeks, Mr. Barkat said.

BackWeb Technologies was founded by Israel's BRM Technolgies, the same Jerusalem company that spunoff CheckPoint Software Technologies Ltd. Softbank Holdings also holds a minority interest in BackWeb.

Copyright September 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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