RealNetworks has encountered plenty of change over the past few years, instrumented in large part by founder Rob Glaser who returned to the CEO position of the digital media company permanently in 2014.
The company posted an $81.8 million net loss last year, and Glaser said in the company’s last earnings report that recent cost cutting would position Real for a return to profitability. That announcement followed a 10 percent cut in staffers last fall.
But one thing is certain, change continues within the halls of RealNetworks’ relatively new digs in Seattle’s stadium district.
Now, ready for the latest transition?
Real announced a reorganization of the corporate staff, which included promotions of several execs and, perhaps most importantly, the addition of a new CTO.
The new CTO is Reza Rassool, a startup veteran who previously worked with companies such as DirectTV, CBS and Panasonic. He also is the former chief engineer and vice president of product development at Widevine Technologies, a Seattle area video technology startup which sold to Google in 2010.
It marks the first CTO at Real since Glaser returned to the company three-and-a-half years ago.
In addition, Mike Mulica is moving from President of Sales and Business Development to an advisory role at the company, making that switch later this month. Max Pellegrini will take on the role of President of Mobile Services, moving from his role as Worldwide President of Products.
Glaser himself has taken on the role of interim leader of the Consumer Media business.
In the memo to staffers, Glaser said that the change will help align the company with a new strategy discussed at a recent staff meeting.
“We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress over the past 3 1/2 years and it’s very exciting for us to be on the precipice of returning to growth in all of our main businesses and for the company as a whole,” said Glaser in the memo.
As part of the change, RealNetworks is renaming its Mobile Entertainment and RealPlayer divisions, insteading calling them Mobile Services and Consumer Media.
Is that enough to spark some interest on Wall Street?
Glaser certainly hopes so, especially since RealNetworks has lost 39 percent of its value in the past year. Real’s stock is trading just above $4, and it now boasts a market value of $148 million.
Here’s the full memo:
I’m writing to share exciting and important news regarding some changes we’re making regarding how our company is organized. These changes align the company with the strategy we talked about at our most recent company meeting.
The 3 main strategic changes that we’re optimizing around are:
1. Capitalizing on our recent momentum & new design wins with mobile carriers for RealTimes and Ring Back Tone products
2. Taking our new RMHD codec technology and connecting it more closely with our RealPlayer business and product worldwide.
3. Taking a macro/holistic view of our technology assets and increasing the synergy and leverage for our technology assets across our individual businesses.
As a result, we’re changing the configuration of 2 of our 3 main divisions (Games is unchanged, as is Rhapsody). Beginning tomorrow, instead of our Mobile Entertainment and RealPlayer divisions, the 2 divisions will be called Mobile Services and Consumer Media.
Mobile Services takes the Mobile Entertainment product portfolio and adds in the Mobile RealTImes product. Mobile Services will now be our global division that focuses on and owns all of our carrier relationships worldwide and all of our products that primarily flow to consumers through these carriers and related partners.
Consumer Media will combine the PC RealPlayer Group and our “IP” group with a broader charter associated with creating a global media ecosystem leveraging our RealPlayer and our new RMHD codec technology.
From a leadership standpoint, we’re making 4 major changes:
1. Max Pellegrini will move from being our Worldwide President of Products to being our President of Mobile Services responsible for all aspects of our Mobile Services division spanning products, marketing, sales, and business development.
2. I will become the interim leader of the Consumer Media business. We will now commence a search for a permanent head of the business.
3. Reza Rassool will be joining Real as our CTO. Reza brings deep and deeply relevant experience to Real. For the past several years Reza has done “virtual CTO” stints at a number of start-ups as well as major technology and media companies including DirectTV, CBS and Panasonic. Reza is also a serial start-up pro with a history of value creation as well as an innovator who developed award winning and patented technology (23 patents granted in US mostly around video streaming/codec).
We haven’t had a single company-wide CTO since I came back to Real 3 1/2 years ago. In the first phase of the turnaround we decided to decentralize R&D in order to give each division the greatest latitude to innovate. Now that we have stabilized the company and created a number of compelling R&D initiatives, it’s time to leverage and, where appropriate, integrate these innovations. Reza will be directly leading some of our R&D teams and indirectly overseeing the others. In this capacity, Reza will report to both me and Max. Reza will be based in Seattle and starts on Monday April 4th. Reza currently lives in LA and will relocate after the school year finishes to Seattle. I look forward to everyone meeting him very soon.
4. Mike Mulica is transitioning from his current role as President of Sales and Business Development to a long-term consulting engagement. Mike will be full-time at Real through the end of April to ensure a smooth transition. Thereafter, Mike will serve as a Senior Advisor for Real continuing to advise on our carrier partnerships and business strategy. Additionally, Mike will continue to serve on the Rhapsody board.
Mike is out this week on a well-earned family vacation in Honduras, but wanted me to pass along the following message to everyone: “I’m proud of the great progress we’ve made at Real over the past 2 years, particularly in opening up new carrier partnerships with outstanding leaders such as KDDI, Verizon, and Vodafone, I look forward to continuing to help Real and Rhapsody in an advisory capacity going forward.”
Beginning today we will have a series of all-hands meetings around the world to share this news and to answer any questions you may have. Max, Reza, Mike, and I will also travel to our main sites around the world in the weeks ahead to talk directly with most (hopefully nearly all) of you.
In closing, I want to welcome Reza to Real, congratulate Max on his new responsibilities, and thank Mike for his many contributions to Real over the past 2 years. We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress over the past 3 1/2 years and it’s very exciting for us to be on the precipice of returning to growth in all of our main businesses and for the company as a whole.
As always if you have any questions or comments please ask/share them in our team meetings or directly via e-mail.