Originally published November 1, 2011 at 2:38 PM | Page modified November 2, 2011 at 6:57 AM

Adobe exec named CEO of RealNetworks

Seattle-based RealNetworks has named Thomas Nielsen, most recently an executive at Adobe Systems, as its new president and chief executive...

Seattle Times technology reporter

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Seattle-based RealNetworks has named Thomas Nielsen, most recently an executive at Adobe Systems, as its new president and chief executive.

Nielsen takes on his new duties Nov. 9.

At Adobe, Nielsen, 41, served as vice president of the Digital Imaging Group, leading the business unit for Adobe's largest product line, which includes Photoshop, Elements and Lightroom, in addition to mobile, Web and tablet technology, according to a RealNetworks news release.

"Thomas is a terrific product executive who has also demonstrated exceptional business and leadership skills," Rob Glaser, RealNetworks founder and chairman, said in the release.

"He's a perfect fit to take RealNetworks into the future. We will leverage Thomas' extensive background in customer-driven product strategy and delivery to ensure RealNetworks' strategic plan is focused and optimized for growth."

The company has seen some big changes in recent years, including several rounds of layoffs since at least 2008, the most recent in February this year.

In March this year, CEO Bob Kimball resigned a little more than a year after being chosen to succeed Glaser. He had been restructuring and rebuilding RealNetworks, overseeing the spinoff of the Rhapsody music service and launching the Unifi personal media-cloud service in Germany.

He was also turning RealNetworks into a smaller company more focused on phone companies and other business customers, as well as games and consumer services.

Since Kimball's departure, Mike Lunsford, an executive vice president at RealNetworks, has been serving as interim CEO. He will continue working at RealNetworks, reporting to Nielsen.

Glaser said in an interview Tuesday that the company's CEO search this time was the most extensive he's been associated with in some 30 years in the tech industry, and that he believes the company found the right fit in Nielsen, who worked at Microsoft before he joined Adobe.

Search for leader

RealNetworks was looking for somebody who had a track record of bringing great products to market, knew how to turn those products into great businesses, and knew how to be a catalyst and leader of people and teams, Glaser said.

He added that RealNetworks has also been undergoing a strategy review, and Nielsen agrees with the resulting vision.

"We have a clear sense of where we're going," said Glaser, who declined to give details of the strategy, saying that would fall under the purview of the new CEO.

As for any further restructuring, Glaser said "that's not in the plans. Anything more specific, I would leave to our new CEO."

He added: "We brought Thomas in to grow the company."

Nielsen's base salary will be $450,000 and he will also be entitled to a signing bonus of $100,000, according to a filing with the SEC.

RealNetworks shares closed Tuesday at $9.28, down 48 cents.

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or

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