Restructuring Takes Toll at RealNetworks; Merrill Brown To Leave


Merrill Brown, the highly-visible media executive who was tapped a year ago to head RealNetworks’ RealOne SuperPass subscription service (he came in from, is leaving the company in August….the parting is not on the best of terms, despite the company’s spin…

“I’ve decided to leave because the company has evolved in a variety of directions that really haven’t been consistent with my personal goals and aspirations career-wise,” Brown said in an AP story. Brown hasn’t decided what to do next, but said he has some “interesting things percolating”. He added there was a possibility to remain at the company in a product development role, but said it wasn’t his cup of tea.

The company announced a reorganization in February, combining he technology and consumer subscription divisions. Brown said the company’s increasing focus on music downloads for subscribers, as well as plans to offer services to wireless phones and other devices, don’t “really play to my strengths.”

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “Delivering bits of information to mobile phones, or improving the systems by which we download music, are utterly appropriate for RealNetworks, but they’re not necessarily consistent with those loves of mine,” Brown said.

Seattle Times: “The entire experience that consumers will have as they engage in news content, in entertainment content, and everything they do from the home is about to change with broadband ubiquity,” he said. “That creates a lot of content opportunities for people like me.”

The MarketWatch story also mentions that RNWK confirmed that Susan Coskey, who headed Real’s human resources, has left (she left more than a month back, prior to the re-organization efforts). It was also announced in May that CFO Brian Turner was stepping down due to health reasons, who later joined Coinstar, a supermarket coin counting company.

A story mentions that Richard Wolpert, a company consultant who was promoted to chief strategy officer, and Martin Plaehn, executive VP of products and services, will oversee the combined units in the new RNWK structure. Wolpert, a former Disney executive who later ran e-commerce site, will largely manage RealOne’s content partnerships and the strategic direction of the service.


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