Real Networks founder Rob Glaser steps down as CEO

Real Networks founder Rob Glaser steps down as CEO

Summary: Real Networks founder Rob Glaser steps down as company CEO.


Rob Glaser, the sometimes vocal and outspoken founder of Real Networks, announced today that he is stepping down from his position of nearly 16 years but will remain the company's chairman of the board. The company also announced the appointment of Robert Kimball, the company's general counsel and executive vice president of corporate development, as the president and acting CEO. Kimball also joined the company's board of directors.

In a statement, Glaser said the time has come for him to step away from the day-to-day operations but that he remains committed to the company and its efforts. In February 1994, Glaser founded what was then known as Progressive Networks, growing the company over the years and innovating to deliver digital entertainment products and services -and even stirring up some controversy along the way.

The company remains engaged in a legal battle with the Motion Picture Association of America, which successfully argued for an injunction against RealDVD, a Real Networks software product launched in September 2008 that would allow consumers to "rip" copies of their personal DVDs for playback on others devices while keeping them stored away - similar to what iTunes allows with music CDs.

Topics: Legal, Enterprise Software

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  • How to screw up a good thing

    Wait, isn't this the "Real Networks" company that pioneered the "Real Player" a decade or more ago?

    The one that cut its own throat by trying to take over your PC during installation, that is if you could find the free version on the website at all?

    The video format that virtually everyone on my video editing website urged people not to walk, but run away from?

    THAT "Real Networks?"
  • RE: Real Networks founder Rob Glaser steps down as CEO

  • RE: Real Networks founder Rob Glaser steps down as CEO

    As the previous post mentioned, Real Networks has made some dubious decisions over time which were probably self-destructive.

    The Bad:
    * Taking over all media file types upon installation: As mentioned, a couple of versions of the Real Player would automatically assign itself as the default player for all media types. What is worse is that the program would reestablish these settings even when the user changed them away via Windows. Truly awful -- the company learned its lesson and with the release of their Real One software they once again played nice.
    * Forced registration upon installation: Real One player was a great product, but unfortunately it had the annoying characteristic of forcing you to register while installing it. Needless to say that many decided to not register and not complete the installation altogether!
    * Other user irritations: from having to dig through the website to find the software you've purchased to having to call an 800-number to cancel your subscriptions, the company seems to have continually gone out of its way to bother and inconvenience users.

    The Good:
    * Real Player and associated formats usually could buffer much, much more than WMP -- and on bandwidth constrained connections this often created smoother playback and allowed one to pause a stream preemptively in order to buffer what the user thought was necessary.
    * The now defunct Real Media Guide was quite good. It had a ton of music videos that could be played for free without advertisements and it had a nice interface for finding radio stations that were simulcasting in the Real format from across the globe.
    * has allowed 25 free plays per month for years -- the service was an enjoyable and unique user experience before the days of and iLike. On the other hand: they did a poor job of advertising the service, they tried to shuck an odd, unnecessary software on the user when they went to the site, and the music-for-download store was disjointed from the streaming service until just recently.

    All in all: Real Player is the Netscape of media players. It was once a staple on all new computer installations that was a handy application and, perhaps, was once a leader in its category. The company made mistakes, but then came back with some decent product offerings; however, by that time they had totally lost the trust of their customers and, after awful previous experiences, many dared not try them again.
    • REPOST

      --removed repost, fixed previous post--
  • He had the wrong approach

    I founded my music-on-demand company in 1990 and the
    prototype built not only piped CD-quality over Guard-
    Bands and narrow-bands, it also had a "DirectHit" search
    engine, and a very good music licensing model for circle P
    and circle C protection from very painful meetings all of
    the BIG labels. It's interesting how PN then came along
    and with a dinky-sounding player couple years later (~94),
    no content licensing model, and then a new .com called
    Direct Hit that failed after that - Well.... Let's just say I had
    it right from the very beginning. The "investors" kept
    saying "No" to me for some reason. Guess I'll keep living
    with that well in the past now.
    • ...but better timing

      PN rode the nascent internet tidal wave to early success. Their investors saw explosive internet growth and tacking media onto it made their mouths water.

      Sounds like your concept was OTA-based so investors probably didn't see marketable differentiation when compared to the (at the time) firmly entrenched radio industry.
      • Timing or location?

        Thanks. It's the struggle of who's your neighbor sometimes. You're right
        on the OTA - an older college colleague of mine I worked with on the
        cellular approach (still have the NDA on that) until he finally sold
        Vanguard to AT&T for $$$$$$$s. Then he bailed, good for him! Set-top
        OTA works. Who's willing to forego the access fee? Freescale "latch-on"
        wireless is fast approaching if you ask me...
  • RE: Real Networks founder Rob Glaser steps down as CEO

    Does anyone care about Real Network? What differnce does it make who steps up or steps down in Real Network.