ABC Net Exec to Take Over HalfthePlanet.com

SAN FRANCISCO (08/31/2000) - Patricia Vance, senior VP of the ABC Internet Group, has left the network to become president and CEO of HalfthePlanet.com, an online resource for people with disabilities.

Vance replaces David Brenner, a former Universal Studios Inc. senior VP who founded the company in 1999. Although Brenner is relinquishing the top slot at HalfthePlanet.com, he plans to continue working for New York-based company as a member of its board, and he'll also contribute to the creative side of the business, according to a company representative.

Vance has never worked on a disabilities-related project, but the 18-year ABC veteran has been in the Internet business for four years. She started in the network's video enterprise division and soon became known as the point-person for the company's less mainstream projects, such as international home-video sales and interactive laser disc development.

"If it was nontraditional, it was thrown at me," Vance says. "It gave me terrific experience in terms of figuring out markets quickly."

In 1993, Vance joined ABC's multimedia group to work on CD-ROMs, and by 1997, she was asked to create ABC.com and take over ABCNews.com. Sites such as Oprah.com and Oscar.com also fell within her purview. Under Vance, ABC.com's traffic skyrocketed to 3.9 million unique visitors, largely thanks to the success of the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire game show.

Also during Vance's tenure, ABC.com became part of Disney's Go.com network. During that transition, she says, she noticed that the company's leadership had shifted to the West Coast.

"I was at ABC for a long time. … My career there had taken me as far as I wanted to go unless I wanted to move to L.A.," she says. By taking the helm of HalfthePlanet.com, she'll be able to continue working in New York City.

Flatiron Partners, an investor in the company, recruited Vance for HalfthePlanet.com. She says her plans for the site include "aggregating any product, service, information or community information that could service [the disabled] market in a useful way."

ABC Internet Group and Go.com executives did not comment on Vance's departure. A spokeswoman for ABCNews.com said it is against Disney policy to discuss employees who have left.

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