Kurnit unveils ambitious plans for Mining Company

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Scott Kurnit, a former executive with both Prodigy and News Corp./MCI's iGuide venture, today takes the wraps off his new media startup called the Mining Company, a network that aggregates content, context and community.


The New York-based company has launched a formal search for 4,000--that's right, 4,000--human guides to develop Web sites in various interest categories like cooking, ice hockey or soap operas. While lodged in the framework of the Mining Company, each site will produce original content as well as offer a resource list on other Web sites of interest. There also will be chat and bulletin board opportunities for users.

"While we support diversity on the Web, consumers are screaming out for consistency and reliability," said Mr. Kurnit. "Although some have likened us to a search engine, we're not. Search engines are in the `come and go business.' We're in the `hang out here' business."


The guides--of which there are already close to 100--work as independent contractors for the company and will receive a cut of the ad revenue sold on their sites.

Mr. Kurnit tapped Alan Wragg, former publisher of TVSM's Cable Guide, to serve as the company's director of ad sales. While Mr. Wragg will lead the New York sales operation, he named Chicago-based Fairclough & Associates to handle sales in the Midwest and is now searching for a West Coast rep firm.

Nabisco Biscuit Co., AT&T Corp. and IBM Corp. are some of the charter advertisers for the service, expected to launch with about 500 sites this April.


Although advertisers are not yet paying, the price will range from $25 to $70 per thousand impressions. Marketers can advertise on one site, a group of sites, the entire network, or develop more integrated sponsorship deals with a particular site. The company is also negotiating 3- and 12-month sponsorship opportunities.

"We're launching new sites with content fields that are very fertile for targeted advertising," said Mr. Wragg.

The startup is working with Lowe & Partners and Frierson & Mee, both New York, to develop traditional and online advertising. The company is also in discussions with Modem Media, Westport, Conn., to handle online media planning.

Copyright February 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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