June 4, 1999 12:55 PM PDT

Will Homer stay with AOL?

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While speculation about Mike Homer's plans abounds, the man who built Netcenter is keeping his options open and eyeing AOL's latest acquisitions.

Homer steered the creation of Netscape Communications' Netcenter portal until Netscape's acquisition by America Online. He is four weeks from completing a sabbatical, which began at the end of April.

In an interview with CNET News.com, Homer refuted speculation that he will not return to AOL. While he informed his staff in April that he would not return as head of Netcenter, he said he did plan to consider what other positions AOL had to offer him at the end of his leave.

Those openings will depend largely on what kind of acquisitions AOL makes, Homer said today. Homer said he was interested in running a smaller organization than Netcenter.

"I plan to come back to AOL and look at whatever job opportunities they have at that time," Homer said. "When I return I would like to do something different, and would like to be involved with something smaller."

AOL this week acquired Net radio firm Spinner.com and music technology company Nullsoft. Last week AOL completed its acquisition of movie information and ticket service MovieFone.

In addition to 850 layoffs spread between AOL and Netscape, Netscape has suffered a stream of defections among high-profile executives and engineers alike. Many have expected Homer to join them before long.

AOL currently is looking for Homer's replacement at Netcenter, Homer said.

Homer denied rumors that he and Intuit chairman Bill Campbell were planning a business venture.

"I have no plans to do that now," Homer said. "Bill has been a mentor to me for ten years, and when people are not sure what I'm going to do, they surmise that I'm going to work with Bill."

Homer, who was charged with driving Netscape's late entry into the portal market, has spent the week anticipating another late arrival. His wife was due to deliver their first child Tuesday.


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