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Mining Co. bows on the Web

The Mining Co., an online network ( founded by Scott Kurnit, launches today with about 250 sites, each led by a human guide. While guides are expected to receive a cut of advertising sold against their sites, the Mining Co. has yet to sign any advertisers. AT&T Corp., Nabisco Biscuit Co. and IBM Corp. all participated in beta tests of the network. A print, radio and outdoor campaign by Frierson + Mee, New York, breaks today with the tagline "Take back the Net." Online advertising by SiteSpecific, New York, also supports.

CNN branches out with softer site

CNN Interactive ( today launches CNN Plus, a premium service offering chat and consumer/community educational material. The free area will feature things like health and nutrition information, car buying advice and recipes; it represents an attempt to position the CNN site as more than a hard news source. CNN also will use CNN Plus as an avenue to reach new advertisers, such as package-goods and real estate companies.

FreeLoader close to sale?

FreeLoader, the push technology company owned by Individual Inc., is close to being sold, FreeLoader CEO Mark Pincus said last week. Individual acquired FreeLoader last year in a deal valued at $38 million, but said in February that it was seeking buyers for the service because it didn't mesh with Individual's core business, providing personalized news and information. "It's down to the final stretch. It's close," Mr. Pincus said. Bob Lentz, Individual chief financial officer, declined to comment.

Separately, Intermind, another player in Internet push technology, has laid off several members of its 30-person marketing department as it shifts its focus from the consumer market to businesses.

AmEx invests in USA.Net e-mail service

American Express Co. has made a minority investment in USA.Net, a provider of free e-mail that boasts more than 600,000 subscribers. The ad-supported service has about 25 advertisers, including U S West Communications and Excite. American Express and USA.Net will also begin collaborating on marketing and strategic initiatives.

Excite expands; Infoseek shrinks

Excite has opened sales offices in Chicago and Los Angeles. Karla Keyser, formerly regional sales director at Selling Power magazine, becomes the regional sales manager in the Los Angeles office, and Kit Simon, previously senior VP-new business development at Orbis Broadcast Corp., was named regional sales manager in Chicago. Excite as early as this week is expected to unveil its new channel model, which divides the search engine into 14 categories.

Separately, more ad executives have left Info-seek. Brooks Fisher, VP-advertising and marketing at Infoseek, and Molly Ford, East Coast director of advertising, have both left the company. Karl Spangenberg, Infoseek's VP-worldwide advertising, and Jim Desrosier, the company's chief marketing officer, resigned earlier this month. The departures are believed to be related to

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