[Post updated with more details, quotes from Glaser] Bob Kimball has resigned as president and CEO of RealNetworks, a little more than a year after succeeding founder Rob Glaser to oversee an attempted turnaround of the longtime Seattle technology company.
Glaser told GeekWire via phone this afternoon that he does not plan to return to the CEO position himself, saying the company will conduct a fast but thorough search for Kimball’s replacement.
No explanation was given publicly beyond Kimball’s statement in a news release: “After twelve amazing years at Real, it is time for me to find new challenges and opportunities,” he said, describing the company’s efforts to remake itself and saying the work “has set the stage for Real to embark on its next phase with a clean bill of health and a strong foundation.”
RealNetworks made the surprise announcement moments ago. The board has appointed another senior executive, Mike Lunsford, as interim CEO while it searches for a replacement.
[Follow-up: Exiting RealNetworks CEO gets $2M on the way out]
Kimball, the company’s former general counsel, had been president and acting CEO until this July, when he was given the CEO title officially. RealNetworks streamlined its business during his tenure as CEO, cutting hundreds of jobs and spinning off the company’s Rhapsody music venture as an independent company. He also oversaw the buildup to the launch of the upcoming Unifi cloud-based personal media management service.
Update, 4:10 p.m. On the phone, I pressed Glaser and Lunsford about the reasons for Kimball’s departure.
“Bob has decided to resign and spend some time with his family and some other pursuits. After twelve year here, we respect his need to do that,” Lunsford said. “That’s really kinda the story.”
Glaser described Kimball’s decision as voluntary, and said he empathized with the choice.
“From the perspective of someone who ran long and hard for a long time and then wanted to change gears … when you do something for a dozen years in Bob’s case, or 15 years in my case, and you’re as intense as I am or Bob is, there’s only one way to step back, which is to step back.”
Given that the company’s restructuring is complete, Glaser called it “a logical time to make the transition, if somebody is of a mind to do it.”
Asked if he would contemplate taking the CEO’s job again himself, Glaser said, “No. Absolutely not. We are starting a search that we will implement in a methodical — as the Supreme Court would say — with all deliberate speed.”
He noted that Lunsford has been in a similar role in the past, serving as interim CEO for a period at Earthlink. Lunsford said he has been managing all of RealNetworks business lines except for the games business up to this point, and is in a good position to serve in the interim role.