SAN FRANCISCO -- All eyes were on
CEO Michael Robertson during Thursday morning's crowded panel called "Emerging Business Models for Music Distribution" at the
RealNetworks Conference '99
. And the golden-haired golden boy did not disappoint.
After receiving a praise-filled introduction from
music group VP Alex Alban, Robertson didn't waste any time proving his reputation as a guy who's not afraid to ruffle feathers. "Real didn't invent the digital music revolution," said Robertson, nattily dressed in a camel blazer and turtleneck. "There were a lot of other products out there that had similar functionality," he added, referring to the launch of the RealJukebox on Monday, which allows consumers to record, or "rip," CDs and play MP3 files.
After dissing the company, Robertson praised the easy-to-use functionality of the Jukebox and said that what RealNetworks really brings to the table is "incredible marketing muscle." Conversely, Robertson said the real value of MP3.com is the company's focus on the needs of the artist, as opposed those of the music industry.
"You can sell 100,00 records and an artist doesn't make money," Robertson said, pointing out that MP3.com has signed up 11,000 artists at a clip of 125 per day. "But when you move on to the Net, the definition of a hit becomes very different."
In March, Robertson revealed his company's intention to go public some time before the end of the year. But Robertson hinted to
after the presentation that an MP3.com IPO could come much sooner.
"You should definitely keep watching us," said Robertson, winking his eye, cracking a mischievous Cheshire cat smile. Robertson is said to be visiting investment banks in preparation for taking his company public at some point during the summer.
InterVU Offering Is Imminent -- or Is It?
Things aren't going exactly according to plan for
The San Diego, California-based company, which provides hosting services for the delivery of streaming media, filed for a secondary stock offering in March. At the conference Thursday afternoon, Stephen Condon, InterVU's vice president of marketing, told
that his company's secondary offering was going to be priced that night. But a quick call to a spokeswoman from
ING Barings Furman Selz
, which is leading the offering with
, revealed that the pricing has been "pushed back a week."
According to details in recent filing with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
, InterVU filed to offer 2,875,000 new shares of stock at a maximum offering price of 40 11/16 (375,000 of the shares are an option to cover any overallotments). At that price, the offering would raise nearly $117 million.
InterVU's lawyers declined to explain the delay, saying they were in a "quiet period." Shares of InterVU have been trading down ahead of the offering. After peaking at an intraday high of 82 on April 13, InterVU has steadily dropped. On Thursday, the stock dropped 4 1/2, or 11%, to 38.