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Lytro Chairman to Take Post as Berkeley Professor in 2015

Ren Ng will focus on light-field computation and photography as an assistant professor in Cal's electrical engineering and computer science department.

Eric Cheng

Ren Ng, founder and executive chairman of light-field photography company Lytro, plans to exit his full-time role next year as he assumes a post at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ng will remain the company’s chairman and stay at Lytro full-time through next summer, when he joins the Cal faculty. At Cal he will continue to focus on light-field computation and photography as an assistant professor in the school’s electrical engineering and computer science department.

In an interview, Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal said that Ng’s move had been in the works for months, but took time to be finalized.

“We’ve got a great team in place and the right technical expertise,” Rosenthal said. “We can keep right on doing what we are doing without Ren being a full-time player.”

Lytro’s technical efforts will be led by CTO Kurt Akeley, a veteran of Silicon Graphics and Microsoft Research who has been at the camera startup since 2010.

The company, which debuted its second-generation camera earlier this year, has been engaged in the tricky path of trying to commercialize a brand new technology for which it handles all of the software, hardware and manufacturing. Lytro did say recently that it would start licensing its technology for use in adjacent markets.

Rosenthal took the Lytro helm in March 2013, after Ng stepped aside to became executive chairman.

Ng said he has wanted to be a professor since his PhD days at Stanford, but once he started Lytro he had to wait until the company was sufficiently far along.

As for now having his loyalties divided between the Bay Area’s two most prominent schools, Ng said that was already a problem since his wife is a Berkeley graduate. “We have been a house divided,” he said.

The company raised $40 million in additional financing late last year.

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