RealNetworks Executive Shakeup Continues, Founder Rob Glaser Out As CEO

RealNetworks is finally getting some new blood.  The company has just announced that founder and CEO Rob Glaser will be stepping down as CEO, to remain as chairman of the company board of directors. Replacing him for the time being will be Bob Kimball, who has been with Real since 1999 and most recently was the company’s general counsel and executive vice president of corporate development. The executive shakeup doesn’t just involve Glaser — yesterday reports emerged that COO John Giamatteo had resigned and would be leaving in April.

Real hasn’t had a hit product in many years, and its stock has long been stagnant. The nail in the coffin for the current executive team may have been the recent dismissal of the company’s suit against Walt Disney and other movie studios. The suit alleged that the studios were violating anti-competition laws for blocking Real from selling their DVD copying software, RealDVD.

As of August 2009 Glaser owned 51.97 million shares of RealNetworks, or around 38.4% of the 135 million shares.  The press release is below:

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.”