RealNetworks Chief Executive Officer Kimball Steps Down

RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK) Chief Executive Officer Robert Kimball resigned eight months after taking on the role in a permanent capacity, saying it was time to seek new opportunities.

Mike Lunsford, an executive vice president at the company, was named interim CEO, and a search for a permanent replacement is under way, the company said today in a statement.

Kimball became CEO in July after taking the interim position in January 2010, when founder Rob Glaser stepped down. Kimball, who joined RealNetworks in 1999 and served as general counsel, cut more than $70 million in annualized operating expenses in the past year and eliminated staffing at the vice president level. He spun off the company’s music business and was looking to offload the games unit as well.

“After 12 amazing years at Real, it is time for me to find new challenges and opportunities,” Kimball said in the statement.

RealNetworks’ stock, which traded as high as $93.44 in 2000, has fallen 6.2 percent this year. The company rose to prominence as the maker of the RealPlayer program for Internet audio and video files, then was eclipsed by competitors such as Apple Inc. RealNetworks has tried different business plans to restore growth and investor interest. Kimball said last year that the company needed to restore both focus and profitability.

RealNetworks, based in Seattle, rose 3 cents to $3.94 today in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

Unifi Release

The company is planning a mid-summer U.S. release of its Unifi Internet-based media storage service, Lunsford said in a telephone interview today. The road ahead requires a long-term commitment, and Kimball decided “that’s not what he wanted to do,” said Lunsford, who previously served in senior positions at EarthLink Inc. (ELNK)

“For us, we’ve spent the last year really trying to slim the business down and get to bedrock,” Lunsford said. “We now really have to turn to generating growth. Unifi is very essential to that plan.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at

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