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"We are convinced we can preserve the values of the community while having something that will be supported by the industry," says Barry, though he has no clue as to how Napster will be profitable. But that's what Bertelsmann's millions are all about--a vast new effort to overcome the technological and fiscal hurdles. Napster, which has been in a hiring freeze while it fought the court action, now is one of the few places in Silicon Valley with a HELP WANTED sign on its door. Fanning has big plans for a next-generation service with enhanced file-sharing and instant-messaging capability.
That is a long way off, particularly if the courts rule against Napster in the next several weeks. No matter, says Middelhoff. "I am always an optimist," he insisted to Fanning last Tuesday, as they walked briskly along Manhattan's Central Park South to announce their new partnership. "It's a beautiful, clear day, I think really a good day for a new beginning."