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Thursday, September 02, 2004
Betting it all on Napster

By any measure, Napster Chief Executive Chris Gorog is one of the world's biggest believers in digital music.

Eighteen months ago, his company, Roxio, was a successful, if unspectacular, player in the CD-burning software market. Then, in a rapid-fire corporate transformation, he purchased the Napster brand name at a bankruptcy auction, bought the record-label-backed Pressplay subscription service and relaunched the Napster brand as an iTunes song store rival and online music subscription service.

A few weeks ago, he took the final step, selling off the old Roxio business and changing the company's name to Napster altogether. The move has won him kudos from those who saw the old business slowing down, along with head-shakes of disbelief from those who think Napster is outmatched against bigger rivals such as Apple Computer, Microsoft and Sony.

That chutzpah is being thrown into relief this week, as Microsoft prepares to launch its MSN digital music store. Gorog has been one of the most vocal backers of Microsoft media technology, but the new Microsoft store will compete directly with his download business.

Still, he says he's no more worried about this than he was about Sony or Wal-Mart Stores. Both are big competitors, but Gorog claims that neither has cut into Roxio's market share.


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