February 1, 2005 9:55 AM PST
TiVo president leaving
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Yudkovitz, a former executive vice president at NBC who had served in his current role with TiVo since May 2003, said he was departing the company in order to spend more time with his family.
The announcement comes only a few weeks after TiVo reported that its chairman and chief executive, Michael Ramsay, would be vacating the position of CEO so that the company could begin searching for a new leader from outside its executive ranks. Some industry analysts viewed that announcement as a no-confidence vote in Yudkovitz made by TiVo's directors.
The management changes come at a pivotal time for TiVo, which is faced with rapidly expanding competition as many local cable operators begin marketing their own DVR services. Industry watchers have speculated that the company might be seeking a buyer in order to help extend its reach into other areas of the electronics market.
The Alviso, Calif.-based company said Yudkovitz's resignation went into effect Monday but noted that the former president would remain with TiVo in a consulting capacity for an undetermined period of time.
Yudkovitz said in a statement that a demanding travel schedule had him ferrying across the United States on a frequent basis and kept him from moving his wife and children to California permanently.
"When I joined TiVo I planned to move my family to California, but as the demands of my role grew, the need to spend even more time on both coasts grew as well, requiring a heavy commute no matter where I lived," Yudkovitz said. "I've chosen instead to find the most logical time to resign as president and re-acquaint myself with my wife and kids."
Despite acquisition rumors, the company has been busy touting a number of new deals and products. Among other strategies, the company has said it wants to tap the Internet to expand its services as cable and satellite rivals incorporate DVR functions into their own gear. It also unveiled its TiVoToGo service, which got a plug from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates at last month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Josh Bernoff, an analyst for Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, said that beyond his personal reasons for leaving, Yudkovitz may not have been perceieved as the right fit to help TiVo find its next market opportunity. The analyst believes TiVo needs to recast its image or find the right buyer soon in order to build on its well-known brand before DVR technology becomes a "generic option" offered by cable and satellite TV providers.
"Yudkovitz was part of the team that had great success getting the TiVo name out there and into people's homes, but at this point that's really just the groundwork for a necessary rebuilding process," Bernoff said. "TiVo somehow needs to make its name stand for more than DVR technology in the consumer electronics world, and I don't think that's an easy task."
Bernoff identifies himself as a member of the camp that feels an acquisition would likely be TiVo's best alternative at this point, but he remains unsure which company might find the most value in buying the DVR specialist, and how much any firm might be willing to pay for it. The analyst said that companies including Apple Computer, Sony and Time Warner could be interested in acquiring TiVo, but he said it's uncertain how some other organization might translate the DVR maker's expertise into new products.
"Any number of companies might make sense as a buyer at first glance, but when you take a hard look, it becomes more difficult to figure out just who could make it work best," Bernoff said.
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