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Prodigy reboots into thirds

Online service provider Prodigy Inc. has been restructured to create three separate operating divisions, including a unit that will develop new networking software, as part of an effort to expand the company’s business as an Internet services provider domestically and internationally.

The newly organized Prodigy will be comprised of Prodigy Internet, Prodigy Solutions and Prodigy Intl., it was announced by Greg Carr, chairman of the White Plains, N.Y., online company.

“In the 15 months since we acquired the Prodigy business, we have seen our businesses change, as evidenced by our expansion into China, our launch and subsequent growth of our domestic SuperISP service, and our creation and initial marketing of software technologies to major global companies,” Carr said in a statement.

Each division will have its own president and general manager.

Russ Pillar takes over as prexy/ CEO of Prodigy Internet, which provides the company’s core product: access to the Internet and the World Wide Web through its SuperISP online subscription. Prodigy develops some custom-made content for its Web customers, and also provides enhancements that make it easier for customers to search the Web. The division also contains the proprietary Prodigy Classic network services used since the company’s inception at the beginning of the decade.

Indar Gopal was tapped as prexy/general manager of Prodigy Solutions, which will develop network software for sale and lease, as well as for internal use by Prodigy’s own Internet services. Though the software division is new, Prodigy has previously developed email software for Lotus Development Corp.

Paul Tucker was named president and general manager of Prodigy Intl., the unit responsible for all overseas operations, including those in China and other parts of Asia, Africa, Mexico and South America.

Prodigy, formed in 1990, was the progeny of a joint venture between computer giant IBM and retailer Sears. For much of its history, Prodigy provided its online services primarily for home computer users through a private, dial-up network, similar to other services such as America Online.

Despite the sharp growth of home computer sales and online services, Prodigy’s business did not thrive, and in 1996, Prodigy was reinvented as an Internet service provider with a focus on the open standard of the booming World Wide Web.

In June of 1996, Intl. Wireless purchased Prodigy from IBM and Sears, and renamed the company Prodigy Inc.

In addition to the unit presidents, Paul DeLacey, who had served as president and CEO of Prodigy Inc. since the 1996 acquisition, will move into a new role as strategic advisor to Carr.

A Prodigy spokesman said the company now provides Internet and Web link-up services to approximately 256,000 subscribers.

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