RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser Steps Down
News of the departure of RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser broke across the blogosphere this afternoon, and the coverage reflected a career at the helm of a digital media company that helped create a platform for Internet content creation, spawned many successful entrepreneurs and a U.S. Senator, starred in high profile litigation, and helped bring digital media to the mainstream. Yesterday, the company's chief operating officer John Giamatteo also resigned.
Speculation about the chief executive’s departure was widespread, with some suggesting his influence had weakened, especially in light of the California Northern District Court dismissal of Real Networks' antitrust lawsuit against Hollywood, which tried to block the sale of the company’s RealDVD software. (As full disclosure, I was an executive at the company from 2000-2003, working on the RealNetworks video subscription product, SuperPass/RealOne.)
There was some initially negative reaction by the financial markets after the bell when the news hit late today, but the RealNetworks stock (RNWK) has rebounded on the positive side since the news hit. Several industry pundits have speculated that perhaps Real may be positioning itself to spin off assets or sell the company. The recent executive departures come after a November 2009 report about an SEC filing indicated that RealNetworks and MTV have been renegotiating terms around their Rhapsody America joint venture, which might cause a change in majority ownership - currently held by RealNetworks.
During his tenure, the company had a reputation for hiring the best talent, continuing a rigor Glaser saw first hand during his tenure at Microsoft working with Bill Gates in the early 90s. Many former RealNetworks alumni have gone on to start or lead new ventures, no doubt inspired by the lessons they learned under a leader known in the industry to be demanding, challenging, innovative and passionate about the causes he believed in. One former RealNetworks executive, Senator Maria Cantwell, served a term in the early 90s in the US House of Representatives before becoming a two-term U.S. Senator.Continued on the next page