The Internet for the couch potato
@Home is a member of the new breed of Internet service providers that wants to bring high-speed Internet use to couch-potato level. @Home delivers Internet service via cable modems rather than traditional phone lines, which allows for speedier access (up to 300 times faster than dial-up connections) and improved overall service. Because it's faster, the Redwood City, CA-based firm can offer brighter colors, better graphics, and even short video clips on demand. @Home has also devised an innovative way to avoid bottlenecks on the Web. It maintains a "parallel" Internet backbone, called @Network, that duplicates popular sites. When an @Home user clicks a link to the heavily trafficked New York Times Online site, for example, she actually sees the replicated page on the @Home backbone. Each parallel site is updated about every 20 minutes, so there's no worry about missing the latest updates. @Home also offers a multimedia component with multiplayer games, local weather and traffic information, and content from more than 60 big-name providers, including Bloomberg, CNN, Discovery Channel online and SportsLine. The company isn't just serving couch potatoes, either - its @Work service offers cable-based Internet access, telecommuting and LAN services for small-to medium-sized business customers.
The company was founded in 1995 by cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), and Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. TCI owns a 42 percent share of @Home, which went public in May 1997. As part of AT&T's acquisition of TCI (announced in 1998) the long-distance carrier will receive the cable company's majority stake in @Home. This gives AT&T a head-start in the cable/Internet world, and sets up the communications giant as a major contender in the new media business. Though @Home's subscribers are only in the six digits (about 330,000, compared to AOL's 14 million), AT&T is betting that this new alliance will put it @ the top of its burgeoning industry. Since it was founded, @Home has secured affiliate agreements with 19 cable companies around the world. That translates into exclusive rights, through 2002, to deliver its services to almost 60 million customers. Several lawsuits are pending across the nation to determine whether AT&T must allow other Internet companies to use their cables, and if so, on what terms.
@Home gets Excited
In January 1999, @Home announced that it would purchase leading internet portal Excite, in a $6.7 billion stock deal. (Other companies interested in acquiring the company included Microsoft and Yahoo!) The deal is the largest to date in a rash of Internet merger activity that began late in 1998, including America Online's $4.2 billion acquisition of Netscape that November. @Home benefits from Excite's successful portal site and personalization features, plus access to its 20 million+ registered users. The merged entity will deliver Excite's personalized interface through narrowband, broadband, and eventually, other display devices including televisions, pagers, and personal organizers. In addition, @Home and Excite will use Excite's MatchLogic technology, which gives advertisers a convenient way to target, measure and report online advertising.
Excite @Home agreed to acquire iMall for $415 million in July 1999. iMall facilitates online retailing for brick-and-mortar merchants. The acquistion will allow Excite @Home to offer merchants high-speed access to Excite's shopping section.
@Home recruits talent on college campuses and at various job fairs around the country throughout the year. It also posts listings on its web site, at www.home.net. You can send resumes and cover letters via fax, e-mail and regular post, or apply using @Home's online form.
Culture still in development
Insiders describe @Home's corporate culture as "sort of undefined," "still in development," and "all over the map." "It's about as un-Corporate America as you can imagine," says one insider. "You'll find everything from 'alternative youth' to 'suits' in this progressive corporation," where "there is an inherent emphasis on diversity." "Yes, there is blue and orange hair in parts of the company," reports one insider. Our sources say representation of women and minorities "has improved vastly" over the past few years, and the company "is getting more diverse all the time." One insider reports that "there is a lot more support for gay/lesbian/bisexual employees here than at other corporations I've been with." Our sources describe co-workers as "a great bunch" of "talented," "motivated" people who "treat each other with respect and professionalism." Dress is casual, "mostly jeans, but you will see some ties and jackets" among people in sales, management and marketing departments. Engineers report donning "shorts, T-shirts and sandals every day."
Work all hours of the day
"@Home is an exciting place to work right out of college," say insiders. Schedules are flexible, "but the work is quite demanding." "The company is growing very fast so don't expect to be coddled. Expect huge amounts of responsibility." "People work hard," explains one source, "but that is not to say they work extremely long hours." Others say they try to "work smart, not hard." One source adds that "it really depends on how engaged you are in the kind of work you do." Another points out that the length of your day will also "vary depending on job type and susceptibility to workaholism." In general, "we are all gung-ho people and put in extra time for the sake of the company." Says one contact: "People work here all hours of the day, all days of the week." Engineers "come in between 10 a.m. and noon and work until 8 or 10 at night. In addition, many telecommute one or two days a week." In fact, "some of us work '24-7' on-call duty." Now th@'s devotion. After work, however, be assured that @Home employees "know how to party." "We have a pretty loose attitude," says one source.
Roller hockey at lunch
"Salaries are competitive, plus you get stock options and an employee stock purchase plan," employees say. One source adds: "@Home is more generous with stock options than any other company I have ever worked for." @Home encourages its employees to keep in shape by providing outdoor basketball courts, an indoor slide, pool table, and Ping-Pong at the company's headquarters. The company also provides other "typical engineer necessities" like "all the free soda and arcade games you want." Other perks include dry-cleaning service, shuttle transportation to San Francisco, a lunch bar in the building, and free snacks. As if that wasn't enough, "Excite [the World Wide Web search engine company] is next door, and we play roller hockey every day." @Homers might play a pick-up game with their industry comrades while waiting for @Home's on-site mechanics to change the oil in their car - another perk the company offers.
VP Human Resources
America Online;Microsoft;Time Warner;US West
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