Novix Media Chases GenXers' Attention

SAN FRANCISCO (03/15/2000) - The 22-year-old founder of personal-finance Web portal Raging Bull Inc. and film director Barry Sonnenfeld are teaming up to build an entertainment and commerce Web site for twentysomethings. The as-yet-unnamed site has brought together some of the biggest names in television, film and children's entertainment.

Bill Martin, a college dropout who founded Raging Bull in 1997, will run the site for new firm Novix Media. Last November, Martin sold Raging Bull to AltaVista for $163 million in stock, Securities and Exchange Commission documents say. Sonnenfeld, the director of "The Addams Family," "Men in Black" and "Get Shorty," will serve as the site's "Creative God," designing it from head to toe and bringing big-name talent to the site, according to Novix's press release.

The founders want the site to be a one-stop e-commerce play for twentysomethings. The site will use reviews of movies, bars and music to draw in its target audience, not unlike CitySearch's sites or other portals geared to younger audiences. Novix will then attempt to sell a host of services and products online geared to the post-college crowd: everything from Internet services and clothing to credit cards. Novix thinks input from Martin and the site's backers will give it an advantage over other sites trying to draw the same audience.

"I raised two rounds of financing with CMGI and CNET, and I still can't figure out how to use my health insurance," said Martin. "So from that perspective, I think I really fit the demographic."

The venture is Novix's first. It's a new-media outfit cofounded by Michael Berman, the publisher of George magazine publisher and former president of Hachette Fillipacchi's television and film division. Though Novix has only secured a modest $3 million in financing for the site so far, investors include former CBS chief executive Michael Jordan and Nathan Gantcher, former chair of CIBC Oppenheimer and former Toys "R" Us executive Larry Bouts.

"We view this as an aspect of pop culture, and so we're bringing different people in from offline to build that into the site," said Berman. "We want it to really become a voice of the generation, much in the same way that '(National) Lampoon' was in its day or 'Saturday Night Live' was in its day."

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