Collegeboard.com Prepares To Launch
Willard C. Korn has been on the job for just over a month now as the president and chief executive officer of collegeboard.com, the budding for-profit venture of the College Board. That's a lot in Internet time, and Mr. Korn has been busy hiring staff members and preparing what he hopes will be the premier World Wide Web site for college-preparation services.
"We're going to be offering a lot of products," said Mr. Korn, a former television executive with CBS Inc.
Among those services, students will be able to register and prepare for the SAT, which the College Board sponsors; learn about financing options for college; and even apply for admission online.
The 100-year-old College Board, based in New York City, created something of a stir last year when it approved the for-profit Web venture.
Earlier this spring, company officials completed a $15 million round of venture capital financing. The College Board will retain 75 percent ownership of the venture, but Mr. Korn said last week that collegeboard.com could be ready for an initial public offering of stock by late this year or early next year.
The site itself is not expected to be launched formally with its own menu of services until September.
Mr. Korn is well aware that a scramble to offer college-preparation services is already under way on the Web. The competitors include Kaplan Inc. and Princeton Review Inc., which are offering electronic versions of their services, and purely Web-based sites such as Embark.com.
"We are late—we acknowledge that," Mr. Korn said. "But we also think we are going to have some unique strategic assets."
Which leads to the two theories that have been circulating about collegeboard.com. One suggests that the site will have a competitive advantage based on its access to the College Board's database of information about students.
"We get more than 3 million students a year who go through the SAT registration process," Mr. Korn said.
The alternative theory, voiced by some of the site's competitors, is that families would rather go to a company unaffiliated with the College Board for advice on how to "beat" the SAT.
"The College Board has never been a student advocate," said John Katzman, the president and CEO of Princeton Review.
Vol. 19, Issue 36, Page 10