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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Shuffles WebTV Execs

WebTV Networks Inc. Tuesday announced President and Co-Founder Steve Perlman, a pioneer in the fusion of video and telecommunications technologies, is leaving the company at the end of the month.

Perlman developed the WebTV concept in March 1995 and established WebTV Networks shortly thereafter with Bruce Leak and Phil Goldman. Perlman will remain with the Microsoft Corp.'s subsidiary as a member of WebTV Networks' advisory board.

With an extensive background in multimedia, graphics and operating system software, Bruce Leak will become president of WebTV Networks and a member of Microsoft's executive staff.

"Bruce will provide the vision and leadership we need to continue to deliver on the future television experience, and we look forward to his valuable, strategic input as a member of the executive staff team at Microsoft," said Jon DeVaan, vice president of Microsoft's consumer and commerce group.

Leak was formerly the general manager of WebTV Networks' service division and also has served as chief operating officer for the company.

Before WebTV, Leak held management and development positions at Rocket Science Games Inc. and General Magic Inc. He began his Silicon Valley career at Apple Computer Inc., bringing multimedia to the desktop computer as the creator and engineering team leader for QuickTime and 32-bit QuickDraw.

Microsoft said Perlman planned to take a long-postponed break through the summer and afterward plans to explore new entrepreneurial endeavors.

Perlman said he was proud of his accomplishments during his WebTV tenure.

"In just four short years, WebTV has redefined television, not only by integrating the Internet and interactive programming, but by laying the groundwork for 21st century television."

When Microsoft bought WebTV for $425 million in April 1997 industry analysts were confused by the hefty price the software giant paid for a company that had only sold an estimated 60,000 set-top boxes at the time the deal was made.

Earlier this month the Federal Communications Commission deregulated set-top box manufacturing, leaving Microsoft in a great position to capitalize on current market convergence.

Microsoft completed a tactical $5 billion investment in AT&T Corp. this month that guarantees the use of Microsoft's TV software platform in advanced set-top devices.

Microsoft's is now in position to lead as the software, hardware and content producer of choice for the burgeoning broadband marketplace.