Following in the footsteps of Steve Jobs, Rob Glaser has officially returned to the position he formerly held at the company he helped build, RealNetworks, and at the end of July they gave him a stack of new business cards without the word interim before his title.
RealNetworks is a provider of internet streaming media delivery software and services and has created such products as RealAudio, RealVideo, and the controversial RealDVD.
Glaser founded RealNetworks in 1994 and was CEO for its first 16 years. He stepped down in 2010, and longtime employee Robert Kimball became the new head of RealNetworks. Kimball lasted barely over a year before a quick and quiet resignation that ultimately put Glaser back in charge.
“The board greatly resects his leadership, vision, and the excellence of the team Rob has assembled,” Dominique Trempont, Lead Independent Director of the RealNetworks board said in a press release published on the company site.
After Glaser’s initial departure, RealNetworks was suffering from a down economy and years of sliding revenues. On top of the external pressures, as each day passed, more and more companies joined in the streaming audio and video world and made it nearly impossible for RealNetworks to turn a profit, but with strong leadership and a strategic plan they did.
RealNetworks became innovators in the market by introducing new products, like heir watch-it-anywhere video service RealPlayer Cloud. RealNetworks just announced that this service surpassed five million registered users in the last nine months. They also own a minority stake (45%) in Rhapsody International, the subscription-based music service, who just announced that they have obtained over two million paying members.
This turnaround, and these ideas more than justify the removal of Glaser’s interim title. While, personally, none of the moves above are enough to overtake the top companies in audio or video streaming, and it certainly seems like trying to be a player in both may hinder RealNetworks in the long run, Glaser has proven to be more than a one trick pony.
“In this next phase,” Glaser said in the same press release, “We will both continue to deliver compelling products that consumers embrace, and also leverage the popularity of our products to reestablish the company’s financial success.”