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New Napster bossman

Hilbers to oversee legitimisation of music site

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German media exec Konrad Hilbers has been announced as the new chief exec of Napster. He'll take over from Hank Barry, the man brought in as interim head just over a year ago when VC Hummer Winblad put $15m in the company.

Konrad Hilbers is a suit through and through. But with a fair bit of experience at running both music and Internet companies. Most recently he was VP of Bertelsmann's music arm but he's also been COO of AOL Europe, VP of CompuServe in Germany, CFO at a publishing house and on and on.

Hank Barry appears to have been written up as a martyr for the Internet cause due to his heading up Napster over the difficult legal period. In reality, however, he is a lawyer who was protecting an investment.

Napster already is a corporate company and its loss has already been mourned. However, the hiring of Hilbers is a clear sign that Bertelsmann is taking Napster very seriously and aims to use it as a major in-road into the future of online music. ®

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