In today’s news, Norman Pearlstine, a long time top manager at Time Inc., the magazine division of Time-Warner, will be joining The Carlyle Group a Washington, D.C. based global private equity investment firm with more than USD$40 billion of equity capital under management, as a senior advisor.

I briefly met Mr. Pearlstine while at Time Warner, when hired to work on their experimental “Full Service Network” interactive television effort in the early 90’s. When introduced as a technical lead for the New York office, he half jokingly asked me, “Are you the one who is going to save us?” I good naturedly replied that I’d try my best. We knew we were in over our heads.

The Time Warner Cable FSN project was a technical boondoggle in deep trouble and would not be able to launch their tests at Celebration, FL for the scheduled date 4 months away. From what I gather, something was launched over 2 years after our meeting, but by that time broadband internet was all the rage, and TW was eying AOL as their path to interactivity. Back in those days, I advised TW to use the Internet as a channel on their interactive cable TV service, but the idea was dismissed, although not by Pearlstine himself.

In the days leading up to the FSN’s proposed Spring 1993 launch date, I had a longer discussion with Walter Isaacson, who was then the Managing Editor of Time magazine. In order to protect my immediate superiors at Time Warner Interactive, I was not able to disclose to him how feeble the FSN effort actually was. How would that look in a Time magazine article!? Even if I had told Isaacson of the many flaws in the system, I’m not sure what good it would have done, but I regret not having a deeper, more honest discussion. So much for office politics and paranoia.

Today I continue to work as the consultant behind the consultants, advisor to the advisors. I spend more time in the real world, hands on in leading edge places, from which many of the upper echelon are insulated and unaware.