Electric Minds Electric Minds
John McCoy, john@minds.com

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Howard Rheingold Launches Electric Minds
New Media Startup Inaugurates The Social Web

August 5, 1996, Mill Valley, California - - Howard Rheingold, prominent author and futurist, and Randy Haykin, founding vice president of sales and marketing at Yahoo! Corporation, today announced the creation of Electric Minds, a new media startup company formed to pioneer the Social Web. The Social Web will be realized for the first time with the launch of Electric Minds, a large-scale electronic community devoted to science, technology and their future effects on global society.

Community is a Balance of Content and Conversation

"The Social Web is the next phase of the Virtual Community Movement," said Rheingold, whose best-selling book "Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier" sold over 100,000 copies worldwide in six languages. "The web is not just a publishing medium, it is a community medium, a place where people can connect and communicate, not just surf through endless screens of information." Rheingold is one of the core members of the Well, one of the world's largest and most established electronic communities, and a highly regarded commentator of global technology trends and culture. "Now that I have watched a few revolutions from the sidelines, it is time to help create one."

Complementing Rheingold's editorial expertise is Haykin, a veteran of Apple Computer and America Online's Greenhouse, which provides seed funding for online startups. Haykin worked with Rheingold to design a company that has ambitions beyond the Web itself. "We believe that web advertising alone will not be a source of stable, long-term growth - there has to be more," said Haykin. Together with Rheingold, Haykin built a blueprint for a media company, one which expands the content of a web site into cable, book and other properties, each of which have their own revenue stream and cross-promotion opportunities. "Our intent is to be the global brand for community."

A Virtual Community

A virtual community is an online "place" where people communicate with other people on a grassroots, many-to-many basis. Several forms of "community" have existed for years: ckhat, MUDS (Multi User Dimensions), BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems), usenet, listservs and several others work as sources of news and basic interaction between users. Yet with the innovation of the web, much of the original spirit of communication was lost. Instead of people communicating together in groups, they are on their own. "Surfing is lonely!" proclaims Haykin.

"Inverse" Publishing

"The Web's potential is unfulfilled when it is used solely as a broadcast medium," said Rheingold. "Several of the large content companies have tried and failed to force their existing broadcast products onto a fundamentally participatory medium. With Electric Minds, we will work that equation backwards, starting at the Web and expanding outward." This new Inverse Publishing model will entail a close integration between the Minds site and related products. These products will include cable programs, book titles, a subscription-based newsletter and affiliated relationships with mirrored servers in foreign markets.

Each of these products provides additional revenue streams and opportunities for cross- promotion. "All of our products will have interrelation between analog and digital: cable syndication products to drive traffic to the site, book titles with dedicated discussion groups and newsletters with special corresponding areas on the site.

Star Team and Partners

Rheingold and Haykin have assembled a high-powered team of creators and technologists. Electric Minds' management team includes director of business development John McCoy, formerly of Ikonic Interactive, director of sales Bill Peck, who pioneered ad sales on the web at HotWired and Infoseek, executive producer Abbe Don, formerly of Apple, the MIT Media Lab, Kaleida Labs and technology director Jim Race, a 10-year veteran of MCI.

Driving content creation will be Rheingold himself, whose "Tomorrow" column is syndicated by King Features. In addition to Rheingold, Electric Minds stable of talent will include: Mark Pesce, creator of VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language), Laura Lemay, author of the bestselling "Learn Web Publishing with HTML in a Week," Linda Jacobson, virtual reality evangelist at Silicon Graphics, pop diva Reiko Chiba in Tokyo, web iconoclast Justin Hall and San Francisco Chronicle technology critic Bob Rossney.

Complementing its lead investment from Softbank and a group of private investors, Minds will open its site with five sponsorships, including US West and publishing relationships with HarperCollins San Francisco and Digital Garage of Japan. The site will be free to all users of the web and will launch in Fall, 1996.

Electric Minds in the San Jose Mercury News
Electric Minds in c|net online
Electric Minds in Web Week
Electric Minds in Yahoo! - Reuters Online

Copyright 1996 Electric Minds, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.