That was the question CompuServe asked Scott Kauffman when he took the post of VP-general manager of WOW!, an online service CompuServe hoped would appeal to the millions of people who had never been online before.
Mr. Kauffman observed that "the penetration of online services to PC homes was not really high...yet." But it was going to grow. And WOW! could change that.
Mr. Kauffman and his team put together an online service that launched March 25. With a $17.95 monthly price, placement on the Windows 95 desktop and content providers like Hearst HomeArts, Time Inc. magazines, and National Geographic, the recipe has bred success: WOW! has garnered 91,000 home subscribers as of August.
Instead of letting Mr. Kauffman relax, however, CompuServe in July gave him an even bigger challenge: to turn around the flagship CompuServe service. It won't be an easy task-subscribership is flat and the company has suffered a series of financial setbacks.
This tireless worker is up for the job, however.
"We had both technologists and marketers sitting around the table together for the first time [while developing WOW!]. It's not just about what we could make technology do for the machine," Mr. Kauffman said. "It was about how the service could be easy to use" for families.
Betcha didn't know: Mr. Kauffman's dog Maggie (named after the daughter on "The Simpsons") is wired with her own WOW! sub-account at the Kauffman home.