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Rob Glaser, RealNetworks chairman

RealNetworks today announced a series of moves to “reinvigorate” the business and make the 16-year-old Seattle company more attractive to investors.

It plans to return $136 million to investors in a special dividend and execute a one-for-four reverse stock split, an initiative that comes after a four month “top-to-bottom review” of the businesses, said founder and chairman Rob Glaser. It also released disappointing earnings report and told analysts that it plans to name a new CEO by the end of the summer.

RealNetworks has seen its stock decline 65 percent in the past five years. But Wall Street seemed impressed with the plan, sending Real’s stock up more than eight percent in after hours trading.

In a press release, Glaser noted that the moves would help reposition the distributor of games and provider of digital media infrastructure technologies. Glaser said:

“We have completed the first phase of that analysis and are now putting together what we believe to be a very compelling strategy and plan to reinvigorate RealNetworks and to set the company up for renewed growth. As part of this analysis, we believe that the company has excess cash relative to our anticipated future operational or strategic needs Accordingly, we are choosing to return some of this cash to shareholders. After the payment of this dividend, we expect to retain sufficient capital to pursue growth both through new product introductions and acquisitions.”

RealNetworks has been a company in transition for a number of years, and this special dividend and reverse-stock-split is the latest chapter.

The company’s previous CEO, Bob Kimball, unexpectedly stepped down as CEO in March. It spun off the Rhapsody online music service last year, and has contemplated doing the same with its games business.

Real is currently being led by interim CEO Mike Lunsford, but he said in a conference call today that the CEO should be completed this quarter.

RealNetworks reported a net loss of $6.8 million on revenue of $83.8 million for the quarter. That was a six percent drop in revenue for the quarter

It had $327 million in cash and cash equivalents as of June 30th, though that that cash pile will be reduced once the special dividend is declared on August 23rd. Here’s a closer look at Real’s results for the quarter.



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