RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser Steps Down, One Day After COO Resigns

Longtime RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser has stepped down, just one day after the company announced the resignation of COO John Giamatteo. Glaser said in a press release issued by RealNetworks that he felt it was time to step down as CEO after leading the company for almost 16 years, but he would remain with Real as chairman of the board. Real’s general counsel, Robert Kimball, has been appointed as president and acting CEO. Both positions are permanent, according to RealNetworks spokesperson Bill Hankes.

Hankes denied that the two announcements were in any way connected, but the timing is a little curious. RealNetworks has been struggling with parts of its business in recent years. It announced the spin-off of its gaming division in 2008 and has failed to get consumers interested in its subscription music service, Rhapsody. Its former dominance in the video streaming space has been eroded by competing content offerings and the dominance of Adobe’s Flash format. Finally, the company was just dealt a legal setback in its court battle with major Hollywood studios that have successfully prevented it from selling software capable of copying protected DVDs.

Glaser founded RealNetworks in 1994, then incorporated as Progressive Networks, and had been leading the company as CEO ever since. RealNetworks became an early leader in the streaming audio and video software market, but has been losing steam in recent years with the growing dominance of Adobe’s Flash for web videos.

Real got a huge influx of cash under Glaser’s watch when the company settled an antitrust lawsuit with Microsoft in 2005, resulting in Redmond paying $761 million to Glaser’s company and promoting its subscription services. The most recent quarterly revenue results came in lower than the previous year, however, with Real bringing in revenue of $140.3 million in the third quarter of 2009, compared to $152 million in the same period of 2008. Year-end results are scheduled to be announced in mid-February.

COO John Giamatteo’s exodus only became public through a SEC filing yesterday, and reasons for his departure were not immediately apparent. However, it now seems like he’ll be leaving RealNetworks for a new job. The company currently doesn’t have a successor for its COO position in place.

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