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RealNetworks boss in sudden exit

Glaser steps down after 16 years

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Rob Glaser - founder of internet media outfit RealNetworks - has stepped down as chief executive of the company after sixteen years at the helm.

Current general counsel and executive vice president of corporate development Robert Kimball has been appointed president and acting CEO. He will also serve on the company's board of directors alongside Glaser, who will remain chairman.

"After nearly 16 years, I’ve decided it’s time for me to step away from day-to-day operations," Glaser said in a canned statement. "I’m grateful to all of our stakeholders - customers, partners, shareholders, and most of all, employees - for the support and commitment they’ve given to RealNetworks. I remain committed to the company and look forward to continuing to serve in my capacity as board chairman."

The move comes a day after the company announced that chief operating officer John Giamatteo will leave the company in April. A search for Glaser's permanent successor as CEO has not begun, but the company says it will begin soon.

RealNetworks was also in the news earlier this week after a US federal judge dismissed the company's claims that the big Hollywood studios were guilty of anti-competitive behavior when they successfully called for a ban on the DVD-ripping software in released in the fall of 2008.

In February 1994, Glaser - a ten-year veteran of Microsoft - founded the Seattle-based Progressive Networks, and in 1995, it released its RealAudio player, a means of streaming audio over the net. Eventually reinventing itself as RealNetworks, the company pioneered the distribution of not only audio but video over interwebs, but its place on the net was soon usurped by Glaser's former employer - after Microsoft bundled its own media player with Windows.

Famously, Glaser testified against Microsoft during a US Senate Judiciary hearing investigating the Redmond software giant's competitive practices. In December 2003, RealNetworks sued Microsoft, claiming it illegally used its Windows monopoly to win the media player market. In October 2005, the two settled the suit, with RealNetworks receiving $460m to settle the claims.

The company's RealPlayer continues to lose market share to the likes of Windows Media player and Apple's iTunes. But the outfit has branched into other areas. In 2003, it purchased the Rhapsody music service from Listen.com, and the company says the service now delivers more than one billion songs a year. ®

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