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Craig McCaw
Craig McCaw

Patent holding company Pendrell is undergoing a shakeup, with CEO Benjamin Wolff resigning from the board and the CEO post, according to a SEC filing released Thursday morning. Wolff, the former CEO of Clearwire, will receive a lump sum severance payment of $3.1 million. A press release says he’s resigned to pursue “new challenges.”

Meanwhile, the company indicated that Craig McCaw will take on the role of executive chairman, and that board member Lee Mikles will assume the role of interim CEO immediately.

McCaw is a low key and mysterious billionaire, who has been out of the limelight for years. In fact, just a few weeks ago the GeekWire team was wondering what happened to the wireless pioneer. McCaw has served on the board of Pendrell since 2000, and moved to the chairman role in 2011.

“Under Ben’s leadership, the company has been successfully transformed over the past five years and is well positioned for future growth,” said McCaw in a statement. “We are focusing on bringing our ContentGuard litigation to a favorable resolution, licensing our existing technology portfolios and maximizing the market opportunity for our innovative social media technologies. Lee is a proven executive who will lead our team in the continued development of our technology assets and achievement of our performance objectives.”

Pendrell’s ContentGuard sued Apple, Amazon, Blackberry, Huawei and Motorola Mobility for patent infringement late last year, arguing that they violated its digital rights management (DRM) technology for protecting content from piracy on devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Pendrell purchased ContentGuard, which was started in 2000 as a partnership between Xerox and Microsoft, and its patent portfolio of more than 260 patents in 2011 for $90 million.

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