RealNetworks Cutting 160, as Glaser Promises New Direction

8/28/12Follow @curtwoodward

RealNetworks is cutting another 160 jobs as part of a re-organization being led by founder and newly returned CEO Rob Glaser.

The Seattle company (NASDAQ: RNWK) disclosed the plans in a regulatory filing today. Glaser also sent out a company-wide memo, which he posted on his personal Facebook account.

The job cuts will reduce Real’s worldwide employee count by about 14 percent, dropping the roster from about 1,140 to about 980 people, Glaser writes. It’s happening in two phases: 80 people are losing their jobs now, and another 80 will see their current jobs end in three to seven months as the company merges duplicate systems.

Real may find work elsewhere in the company for some of the people in the second layoff group, Glaser writes, “but as of today [we] don’t know how many we will find positions for.”

Rob Glaser

Job losses seemed likely when Glaser re-took the CEO’s chair earlier this year, following a brief and unsuccessful stint by former Adobe executive Thomas Nielsen. Real, which was an early leader in online media software, has struggled for years to find a new, permanent direction. Its sprawling interests include video games, streaming media, and mobile software services.

Nielsen joined RealNetworks in November 2011 after a CEO search that Glaser described as the most extensive of his career. Nielsen’s first big public move came at the end of January, when he sold some of Real’s video software and some patents to Intel for $120 million. Investors liked the move, and Nielsen said there were more changes coming as he went through all of Real’s many lines of business looking for new directions.

He didn’t last—it was officially reported as a resignation—and Glaser took over the company on an interim basis in July.

In today’s memo, Glaser tells Real employees that in the past eight weeks he’s reviewed all of the company’s business, come up with a strategy for the future, and devised a plan to return Real to profitability. He says there will be a series of company meetings next week to lay out the future strategy.

In his memo—notably more human in tone than most corporate missives—Glaser writes that he knew big layoffs might be part of the recipe when he returned to the corner office:

“But I promised myself that if we did have to do a significant layoff, I would do everything in my power to make sure that when we did it we also knew where we were going. I wanted to be able to look everyone in the eye and tell them that we have a plan to succeed that I believed in from the bottom of my heart. I feel like we are almost there. While we still have a few areas to work out, we have made great progress. I can honestly tell you today that we are at least 80% of the way to having such a plan for every major part of our company, and have line-of-sight on the final 20%.”

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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