updated 05:50 pm EST, Wed January 13, 2010
Real founder Rob Glaser out
Real tonight surprised the industry as its chief executive and founder Rob Glaser is stepping down from his primary role. The early web video pioneer will be temporarily replaced by Robert Kimball as acting CEO but will still have both his role as board chairman and his existing investments.
His departure isn't directly explained, though the company says he will continue to participate in politics and charitable casues. However, Kimball notes that he plans to transform RealNetworks into a "more focused and more profitable" company under his leadership.
The timing of the departure is noteworthy as it follows a dismissal of RealNetworks' case against the MPAA for its attempt to block sales of RealDVD, which has so far proven successful and essentially exhausted all of the company's immediate options. RealPlayer has similarly struggled to regain share on the web as Flash, Silverlight and traditional plugins like QuickTime have either replaced or continued to hold off the early format.
Lately, Real has placed a greater emphasis on its Rhapsody music service and integrated it into numerous Internet-aware home electronics devices, including VIZIO TVs, iPhones and TiVo DVRs.