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Thomas Nielsen

[Updated with comments from Rob Glaser]

RealNetworks just named Thomas Nielsen as its new chief executive officer, filling the spot vacated by the surprise departure of Bob Kimball earlier this year.

Nielsen, 41, was most recently the vice president of Adobe Systems’ Digital Imaging group, a business unit that includes the Photoshop, Elements and Lightroom products, according to a RealNetworks news release. Nielsen, a native of Denmark, worked at Microsoft for five years before going to Adobe.

Rob Glaser, the company’s founder and chairman, announced the news in an email to employees this afternoon, calling Nielsen “a product guy who knows how to stimulate software product innovation and to drive businesses forward.”

“There’s a lot of adjacency and commonality in the understanding of technological trends, market dynamics that Thomas brings to the party, which I think will help him hit the ground running,” said Glaser in a phone interview with GeekWire this afternoon.

Mike Lunsford, the veteran RealNetworks executive who had worked as interim CEO since Kimball’s departure, will remain at the company in a senior position reporting to Nielsen, wrote Glaser in the email.

RealNetworks, a pioneer of digital media online, has been through a radical change over the past two years, cutting hundreds of jobs, exiting unprofitable businesses and spinning off its Rhapsody music venture as an independent company.

Apart from its GameHouse video-game unit, the company has gotten out of the business of selling content to focus more on technology infrastructure and digital media tools such as its RealPlayer and Unifi media programs.

Also see this follow-up Q&A with Rob Glaser.

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