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Interim No More: Rob Glaser Named Permanent CEO of RealNetworks

How can we miss him if he won't go away? We can't!

Rob Glaser, who founded RealNetworks in 1994 and served as its CEO until 2010, has been named permanent CEO of the Seattle-based digital media company. He has been interim CEO for the last two years, trying to turn around RealNetworks, including a move of its business to the cloud.

That includes RealPlayer Cloud, an online video service which the company said today had more than five million registered users, from two million three months ago. RealNetworks also owns a 45 percent stake in the Rhapsody music service, which the company said today now has two million paid subscribers.

In an interview yesterday, Glaser said that remaking the company has been a challenge, because “re-creation now is harder than just doing a startup, where you can work from a blank sheet of paper.”

He said he decided to sign on permanently because the changes he made when he returned are only in the first phase. “We are at the midway part of the turnaround and have fixed the product part, so the next steps are critical.”

Said Glaser of his main aim for its move into the cloud with RealPlayer, which still is largely used via software, “we are laser-focused on making video work perfectly across all devices and formats … there is a big opportunity to be the video cloud service for the next 10 years.”

RealNetworks also has a games unit, as well as a carrier business — such as the sale of ringback tones.

Glaser noted that solving the cross-platform challenges still make for a lucrative opportunity, as long as RealNetworks moves forward.

“We have been a very PC-oriented company and have had to retool our business, which is hard,” said Glaser. “Revitalizing the company is fun most days, challenging most days, but rarely daunting most of the time.”

Glaser still owns 37 percent of RealNetworks, which was worth $10 billion at its peak in early 2000, just before the Web 1.0 crash. It now has a $282 million market valuation.

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