RealNetworks looses president as losses grow

RealNetworks reported last week a wider net loss of revenue and announced that the company’s president, Larry Jacobsen, is stepping down.

The Seattle-based digital media company posted a net loss of $10.4 million, or six cents a share, compared with a net loss of $2.8 million, or two cents a share, in the first quarter of 2003. Revenues hit $60.4 million, a gain of 29 percent over the 2003 first quarter.

Jacobsen will step down from his post after an interim period, with no replacement announced. Dan Sheeran, formerly RealNetworks’ senior vice president for marketing, will take over international responsibilities as senior vice president. RealNetworks also created a position of chief technology officer and named Edmond Mesrobian to the post to oversee development of its digital media technology.

The company’s business services division has suffered in recent years, with sales remaining slightly below year-ago results in the first quarter of 2004. Losses included charges of $4.9 million due to the early termination of a golf sports programming deal with the Professional Golfers’ Association and $2.3 million in litigation expenses related to an antitrust suit against Microsoft last year. Excluding those charges, RealNetworks lost $3.2 million, or two cents a share, for the period.

RealNetworks’ revenue increase came as the company has moved away from business software to consumer products and online video programming. That strategy has taken a new turn recently, with the company opting to pursue back-end technology deals for third-party programming sites. At the same time, it is concentrating on music and games for its own consumer plans, rather than seeking to renew expensive exclusive sports-programming contracts signed in recent years.

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