RealNetworks founder and CEO Rob Glaser is quitting. It’s about time.
The question is, did Rob just get bored? Or was he pushed out?
Sounds like both.
A source familiar with the situation says that while Rob was hoping to make his transition more gradually — perhaps announcing his retirement and a CEO search — the RealNetworks board pushed for a more abrupt move.
RealNetworks hasn’t had much of a business to get excited about in a long time. The company once led the streaming video world, but got its butt kicked over the past decade by Microsoft and later Adobe. Meanwhile, it is an also-ran in streaming music.
Analysts expect the company to report $560 million in revenue this year, down 7.4% year-over-year.
RealNetworks exec Robert Kimball has been named president and acting CEO, and is joining the company’s board. Glaser remains chairman.
The move comes a day after Real COO John Giamatteo quit, effective Apr. 2. And last week, a court threw out its case against movie studios, which said studios were illegally barring Real’s “RealDVD” software from copying DVDs.
Here’s the release:
REALNETWORKS’ FOUNDER ROB GLASER STEPS DOWN AS CEO
Company appoints Robert Kimball President and Acting CEO
SEATTLE – January 13, 2010 Digital entertainment services company RealNetworks, Inc., (Nasdaq: RNWK) announced today that founder Rob Glaser has stepped down as CEO. He will remain chairman of the board of directors of RealNetworks. The company also announced that its board of directors has appointed Robert Kimball president and acting chief executive officer. The board also appointed Mr. Kimball to the board of directors.
“After nearly 16 years, I’ve decided it’s time for me to step away from day-to-day operations,” said Glaser. “I’m grateful to all of our stakeholders – customers, partners, shareholders, and most of all, employees – for the support and commitment they’ve given to RealNetworks. I remain committed to the company and look forward to continuing to serve in my capacity as board chairman.”
In February 1994, Mr. Glaser founded what was then known as Progressive Networks, a pioneer in the field of digital audio and video technology for the Internet. Under his leadership, Real has grown into a multinational company, providing digital entertainment products and services to hundreds of millions of consumers around the world.
“Few people have changed an industry and created a unique experience for billions of people,” said Jonathan Klein, a board member of RealNetworks and the co-founder and CEO of Getty Images. “Rob has changed the face of digital entertainment with RealNetworks’ streaming media products. At the same time Rob has had a profound impact on politics and philanthropy. I’m sure he will continue to do this extraordinary work as well as spending time with his wife and young children. We are grateful for all he has done for the company, the industry and employees, and are pleased that he will continue to serve on the board.”
Bob Kimball joined the company in 1999 and has been a member of the senior executive team since 2003. He most recently served as general counsel and executive vice president of corporate development at Real. “In the decade he’s been at Real, Bob has proven to be an outstanding business executive and leader, and under his leadership the company won’t skip a beat,” said Mr. Glaser. “Our board has great confidence in Bob, and he will be a candidate for the permanent CEO position as part of a formal search process that will begin soon.”
“I look forward to the opportunity ahead,” said Mr. Kimball. “Real has a great team in place, a strong financial position, close customer relationships and fantastic products. We plan to transform Real into a more focused and more profitable company that delivers value to our shareholders.”
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