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Pinnacle Systems names new Chairman & CEO

Targeting the broadcast industry with a range of IT-centric products that have been successful amidst a tough economy, yet plagued by disappointing sales of its consumer editing and image capture products, what Pinnacle Systems needed most was a good finance manager; someone who had experience in refocusing resources and leading companies out of hard times. Last week the company announced it had found her.

Patti S. Hart has been elected to Pinnacle’s board of directors, along with former Informix chairman/CEO Robert J. Finocchio, Jr.

Patti S. Hart, the former chairman and CEO of now defunct Excite@Home, has been named as the company’s new Chairman/CEO. Hart has also been elected to Pinnacle’s board of directors, along with former Informix chairman/CEO Robert J. Finocchio, Jr.

While Pinnacle’s Broadcast & Professional Division supplies technology that many in the broadcast and production industry rely on every day, operational issues within its Consumer division have caused executives to spend a lot of time and energy getting the company’s financial books in shape for shareholders.

Last November, Pinnacle’s CEO J. Kim Fennel resigned, due to poor performance of its Consumer division. The Broadcast division has been growing steadily, according to the company. Through it all, the rest of the company’s managers have remained in place. This includes Art Chadwick, CFO, vice president of Finance; Ajay Chopra, president, Broadcast & Professional Division, director and co-founder; and Bob Wilson, senior vice president, Corporate Development.

An experienced, tech-savvy executive, Hart said she’s “getting up to speed” on the specific product lines offered by Pinnacle, but does not expect a big learning curve.

“[Pinnacle’s] technology is more similar to what I’ve been used to than I expected,” she said, likening this to her experience at Sprint Corp., where, in 1986, she was president and chief operating officer of Sprint's Long Distance Division. “What I see here is the combining of hardware, software and integration services. It’s very similar.”

Hart, who is replacing interim president/CEO Chuck Vaughan, will initially focus her efforts on “taking all of the great assets that the company has built over the years and focusing on getting more efficient with how we bring products to market,” she said. “We’ve also got to maintain a high price/performance ratio across the products or they will lose favor with customers. I see an opportunity to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace. To really focus on the user experience with our products and make that what Pinnacle stands for.”

The biggest challenge ahead for Pinnacle, and all equipment vendors, she said, is to “be on the front-end of the transition to IT-based systems in the broadcast space. I think Pinnacle has a good head start there, but it’s a place we can differentiate ourselves if we run faster.”

Regarding Pinnacle’s current broadcast industry strategy of developing IT-based networked products for news and network graphics that are tightly integrated with each other, Hart said she’ll look at the various product lines and make some decisions. She said the company will look at combining products, where appropriate, and designing technology that can be leveraged across a series of products, “as opposed to replicating things from the ground up.”

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