Rob Glaser Out as RealNetworks CEO; Robert Kimball President and Acting CEO

Bob Kimball

A shocker but a move five years too late: Rob Glaser, the founder and CEO of RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK), is stepping down as the leader of the company after 16 years. The pioneering online video company has appointed Robert Kimball, who till now was the corp EVP, as president and acting CEO; he has also been appointed to the board. A formal search for a new CEO will start now, and Kimball will be a candidate as well, a RealNetworks’ spokesperson tells me. Glaser will remain as the chairman of the board; he is also the single largest shareholder of the company.

The company said Glaser will step away from day-to-day activities, and focus on spending time with family, and his various philanthropic and political interests. He is a big democratic supporter and one of the founders of Air America, among others. I would not be surprised to see him running for some public office someday soon.

Staci adds: When I last saw Glaser Friday evening, he was pulling an overnight bag through The Palazzo in Las Vegas, headed first to a party and then home to his wife, who is expecting their third child, and his young twins. He was exhausted and exhilarated at the same time, ticking off all the meetings he’d accomplished during a quick couple of days. Not even a glimmer of a sign that he was ready to stop the day-to-day drill (which I find hard to believe is possible) or that he was even considering it. Strictly business as usual.

So did he jump or was he pushed? Over at All Things D, John Paczkowski citing unidentified sources says, yes, the board told Glaser it was time to go and he finally agreed. I’m getting calls suggesting the same. It wouldn’t be the first time a board has had to tell an entrepreneur he’s not the best one to run his company. Maybe more boards should do just that. Real insists this is Glaser’s choice.

It’s the second senior executive change for Real in as many days. The company announced Tuesday that COO John Giamatteo is leaving effective April 2, but says the two moves are unrelated. (The decision on whether to replace him is pending.) Not everyone is convinced. I’ve heard from multiple people who believe that was the last straw in some way.
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