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A screen saver might not seem like the Internet's killer app, but that's the essence of Christopher Hassett's vision for PointCast (http://www.

Unlike most Internet services, which force consumers to surf through the labyrinthian Web, the Cupertino, Calif., company earlier this year broke the mold on Internet information delivery by creating a service which provides news and information to a consumer's computer screen automatically.

Mr. Hassett started PointCast just two years ago after working at another pioneer in the high-tech industry, Adobe Systems.

"When I left Adobe, it became clear that if the world became a network of connected computers, there would be endless applications for that," Mr. Hassett said. "Once we realized the opportunity was as large as it is, we decided to build a company."

The salient moment came when Jim Reilly, now PointCast's VP-strategy, suggested the idea of turning screen savers into an interface for a broadcast network, and PointCast was born.

In addition to forging relationships with blue-chip publications to provide news and information, the company is bringing new thinking to the tired Web banner ad model. Ads on PointCast pop up as animations and connect to the user's Web site. The company has netted more than two dozen advertisers for the fall quarter, at a rate card of $100,000 each.

PointCast seems to be meeting a need for easier access to Internet-based information. The company has boomed from two to 160 employees since 1994 and doubled in size in the last six months, with projections to double again over the next year.

If that's not a sign PointCast is onto something, consider this: Microsoft Corp., long a defender of its desktop computer screen, is eyeing its own entry into the market.

Betcha didn't know: Mr. Hassett was destined for a life in the computer industry. He started his career writing software for Digital Equipment Corp.'s VAX mainframe machines when he was just 16 years old.

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