BitTorrent announced Wednesday that the company has named Doug Walker, former chief executive of Alias Systems as its new CEO.
Walker replaces Bram Cohen, the company's cofounder who steps aside to become BitTorrent's chief scientist. Eric Klinker, former chief technology officer of Internap, is now BitTorrent's new CTO.
As inventor of BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer file sharing protocol considered by many to be the Rolex of Internet piracy tools, Cohen is revered by techies and file sharers. As CEO of BitTorrent, a startup trying to cash in on the technology by offering a legal content-distribution service, Cohen has met with less spectacular results.
More than a year ago, the company received the blessing from some of the major movie studios to distribute their films. In February, the company opened the BitTorrent Entertainment Network, a digital media store that features movies, TV shows, and games. But in a sector dominated by the likes of YouTube, iTunes, Joost and the Web sites of TV networks, Cohen's company has generated little buzz.
To be sure, distributing feature films over the Internet has yet to fully catch on with the mainstream. File sizes are still too large and home connections too slow. But, in the year since BitTorrent signed its first studio deal, a score of new competitors have emerged. Cable companies have also bolstered their video-on-demand offerings.
Walker has some advantages going in. Many industry insiders think that the BitTorrent protocol is the most efficient method to distribute movies over the Web. The brand has value with tech-savvy types and if the company can ever offer a service that is as fast, high quality and not too expensive, they might have a chance to convince the file-sharing crowd to go straight.