Cable Operators

Move Networks Cuts Staff, Preps For Possible Sale

7/06/2010 1:00 PM Eastern

Move Networks, a provider of Internet streaming media and IPTV solutions whose backers include Comcast, has laid off more than half of its remaining employees as the company evaluates "strategic alternatives," including a possible sale.

The company also announced that Roxanne Austin will resign as president and CEO following "a brief transition period." Marcus Liassides, executive vice president of sales and business development, will be promoted to president and will oversee the company's day-to-day operations.

Austin, previously with DirecTV as president and COO, joined Move Networks in July 2009.

In a June 30 statement, Move Networks said it intends to retain a financial advisor to assist it in evaluating strategic alternatives and that during this process, "the company will focus its operations on maintaining the existing MSO platform and continuing to serve existing customers and potential new partners."

Move Networks, based in American Fork, Utah, rose to prominence with an adaptive-rate streaming Internet video player that had been used by ABC.com, Fox, The CW and other media sites. In addition, Comcast has used the Move video player to deliver the beta version of the Fancast Xfinity TV authenticated video service.

However, Adobe Systems' Flash and Microsoft's Silverlight now incorporate adaptive-rate streaming features, eliminating Move Networks' differentiation for Web video playback. In February, Move Networks cut about 15% of its workforce, leaving it with 107 employees, as part of what the company described as a move away from Web video to focus on IPTV. The layoffs last week eliminated more than half the remaining employees.

"With Move Networks' transformation into an end-to-end digital MSO platform that delivers full, linear aggregated live programming now successfully completed, the company has become an increasingly attractive asset to a range of potential partners," Dan Beldy, managing director of Steamboat Ventures and a member of Move's board, said in a statement last week. "As a result, the board has therefore determined that the time is right to undertake a disciplined exploration of the full range of value maximizing opportunities."

Move has raised about $70 million from investors including Steamboat Ventures, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Benchmark Capital, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Comcast and Televisa.

The company in April 2009 acquired Inuk Network, a U.K.-based company that developed IPTV solution for service providers. Move Networks claims it has integrated its Internet-streaming technology with Inuk's solution to provide live, multichannel television, network-based DVR and interactive features across TVs, personal computers and mobile devices.

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