Rob Glaser, RealNetworks Founder, Joins Accel Partners, Looks to Connect VC Firm with Seattle Entrepreneurs

5/26/10Follow @gthuang

Rob Glaser, the founder, chairman, and former CEO of Seattle-based RealNetworks (NASDAQ: RNWK), announced yesterday that he has joined Accel Partners, the Silicon Valley-based VC firm, as a part-time venture partner. Glaser will focus on digital media, social media, and mobile service investments—and he’ll do it from the Seattle area.

Accel invested in RealNetworks back in 1995, so the two have a longstanding relationship. In an interview with Kara Swisher of All Things Digital, Glaser gushed, “I have never seen a more entrepreneurially aligned venture firm.”

In a more in-depth chat with Dan Primack of PE Hub, Glaser said, “My sector focus will be on social media and the social intersection of mobile with physical location and other characteristics. The second element of my focus is that I’m Seattle-based, so I hope to introduce Accel to lots of great local entrepreneurs. There are four major mobile companies here—T-Mobile is headquartered here and AT&T is about half here—and we have a great tradition of mobile entrepreneurship like McCaw and others. Plus Microsoft—of which I’m an alum—Real, and Amazon.” (Check out the interview for tidbits on Glaser’s departure from Real, VC pitfalls, and political aspirations.)

In any case, hiring Glaser seems like a shrewd move by a venture firm that, like all its competitors, needs to bolster its entrepreneurial talent, connections, and horsepower in a very challenging time for VC returns. If there’s anyone who might have a unique take on the opportunities at the intersection of mobile technology, physical location, and social media, it’s Glaser.

Prior to RealNetworks, Glaser was a 10-year Microsoft veteran and, before that, the founder of Ivy Research, a maker of games for IBM personal computers (in 1981, while he was an undergrad at Yale University). Glaser has also been an early-stage angel investor in companies including TellMe, PlanetOut, and SmileBox.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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