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January 13, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Glaser’s goodbye note to Real employees, new CEO’s hello

Rob Glaser told RealNetworks employees this afternoon he’s giving up the CEO post at the company he founded 16 years ago to spend more time with family, civic work and other projects.

Incoming Chief Executive Bob Kimball also sent a memo to employees, telling them he’ll be discussing a new strategy for the company in a few weeks.

Glaser’s internal note:

Team,

Today we’re announcing something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Nearly 16 years after founding RealNetworks in 1994, I’ve decided to step aside from day to day operations. Accordingly, we’re announcing today that I am relinquishing my CEO job and will focus on my role as Chairman of Real’s board.

A decision of this magnitude produces a complex bundle of feelings. First, profound gratitude for the amazing colleagues I’ve had the opportunity to work with during a chapter that has turned out to be a third of my life. I am incredibly proud of the creativity, persistence, and commitment to excellence that our teams around the world bring to the table every day.

Second, deep appreciation for the billions (yes, billions!) of consumers that use or have used our products, the hundreds of millions of consumers that use our products every year, and the tens of millions of consumers that use our products and services every month. I am also grateful for the trust placed in us by our fantastic carrier and other distribution partners. Very few companies get to have the global reach and impact that we do.

Third, great confidence in the team that will be running the company day-to-day. As we kick off a search for my permanent successor, Real will be led by Bob Kimball as Acting CEO. Bob is one of the most passionate, hard-charging, and lucid executives I’ve ever had an opportunity to work with, and given his decade of leadership at Real, I am confident that the company won’t skip a beat.

Fourth, the bittersweet feelings that come from closing the book on a 16 year labor of love, emphasis on both labor and love. I feel very fortunate that as Chairman I will still get to carry the torch for everything that has made and will continue to make our company great. And with 2 small children and a third on the way, I feel very lucky that the rhythm of my life can now change, at least for a time, to allow our family to do some things that might not otherwise have

been possible. I also look forward to spending more time on civic and other projects outside of Real.

While there’s never an ideal time to make a change like this, this is as good a time as any. We’ve weathered the brunt of the Great Recession and have done what we said we wanted to do, which was to keep our core solid while also building for the future. We’ve also undertaken an extremely rigorous strategy review and have a very exciting road map for the future that you’ll hear about in the days and weeks ahead. And the start of a new decade is a good time,

poetically, to pass the baton.

Thanks again for everything, and I hope to see all of you soon.

Rob

Kimball’s internal note:

Dear Team,

Rob Glaser, our founder, has resigned as CEO effective today. Rob is sending out a separate note discussing his decision. While Rob will no longer have an operating role, he will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board. We look forward to continuing to work with Rob and I want to thank him for making RealNetworks what it is today and leaving us with a strong foundation upon which to build.

The Board has asked me to assume Rob’s executive responsibilities and has appointed me President and acting CEO. The Board of Directors will consider candidates for the permanent CEO role in the coming months. The senior executive team is galvanized and committed to making RealNetworks a company where customers love our products, employees are excited about being here, and we create value for our shareholders. We want RealNetworks to be a more focused, faster growing and profitable company. We are going to simplify the way we do business, empower employees to do their jobs, and hold people accountable for their results. I look forward to working with all of you to transform RealNetworks as part of this next chapter.

As part of transforming RealNetworks, I am personally committed to providing you with candid, clear and frequent communication so you know where we stand and where we want to go. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing with you changes in the way we operate and organize our business. And we want you to talk to us. Tell us when we are succeeding and when we are failing to make the changes necessary to transform. We plan to hit the ground running and we will need your help and input to succeed.

As you learned yesterday, John Giamatteo announced that he will be leaving in April to pursue another opportunity. John has built a great team here are Real and is completely supportive of the executive team going forward and will be working closely with all of us to ensure a smooth transition.

Finally, I want to thank all of you for your contributions to RealNetworks. Our employees are our greatest asset and I humbly ask for your support and commitment to build our company into the great company we all know it can be.

Best to all,

Bob

Comments | Topics: bob kimball, RealNetworks, rob glaser

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