When ABC Television President Pat Fili-Krushel got an offer to join a dotcom, she talked it over with her husband. It was the same conversation they had had just six months earlier. Only then it was about whether Ken Krushel, at that time senior vice president of strategic planning for NBC, would leave his network job to join an Internet venture. He did, and, several months later, so did she.
Fili-Krushel started her new job last week as president of WebMD Health, the consumer division of Internet health-care company Healtheon/WebMD (Nasdaq: HLTH). Less than a year earlier, her husband joined iCollege, a start-up that will supplement college and university Web sites.
For Fili-Krushel, much of what is appealing about WebMD is the mission of the enterprise: to link health-care institutions, physicians and consumers. "Of users of health-care information online, 70% to 80% are women, because women tend to be the health-care keepers of the family," she explains. "To program, to empower women to be more educated consumers of health care is something I can get excited about," she continues. "I've done programming for women, and I love that."
Besides network president, her résuméincludes heading ABC Daytime; the launch of ABC's The View, a daytime talk show targeting women; and a stint at women's cable network Lifetime Television, where she was senior vice president, programming.
For Krushel, iCollege offered a chance to build a company and work in a rapid-pace environment with great intensity, he says. "At some point, large companies are not rewarding. They're hierarchical, intrinsically political and by definition, do not move quickly," he observes. "People get obsessed by whether they have a corner office and where they sit at the boardroom table. And after you've developed business skills, you want to put them into play in a much more immediate and intense way, and the Internet affords that opportunity."
Krushel also says he felt a sense of "manifest destiny. We're crossing the Great Divide."
Says Fili-Krushel: "We asked ourselves if we both wanted to be in this riskier world. We said yes, yes we do."