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Styslinger retires from SeaChange

Thu, 12/01/2011 - 2:19pm
Brian Santo

SeaChange International founder, chairman and CEO William Styslinger, 65, has retired, effective immediately. Board member Raghu Rau will take over, serving on an interim basis.

Rau, formerly senior vice president of global marketing and strategy at Motorola, is a SeaChange board member and a partner in Ramius, an investment firm with a substantial minority stake in SeaChange.

Board member Thomas Olson, former CEO of Katz Media Group and of National Cable Media, has been named chairman of the board.

The company is now conducting an executive search for a CEO.

For years, investment company Ramius had been pushing SeaChange to more rapidly de-emphasize its VOD operation, if not sell it outright. Up until a year and a half ago, it had consistently called for Styslinger's head.

A year and a half ago, Ramius induced SeaChange to expand its board from six members to eight and secured the two new seats for two of its partners: Rau and Edward Terino, president of GET Advisory Services.

At that point, Ramius ceased calling for Styslinger to step down but continued to advocate for selling the company in part or in whole, expecting it could extract a better return on investment that way. Several companies, including Arris, had considered buying the company, but no sale came.

The board now says that it intends to maintain SeaChange as a "standalone publicly traded company."

But that doesn't mean SeaChange may not yet dump its servers and storage operation, the hardware part of its business.

The full statement attributed to the SeaChange board reads: "After an extensive review of strategic alternatives, the board has decided that it is in the best interest of shareholders to continue as a standalone publicly traded company. The company is focused on significantly improving and streamlining operations, and the board will continue to evaluate alternatives for certain non-core businesses."

Meanwhile, Olson praised Styslinger: "We would like to express our appreciation to Bill Styslinger for founding SeaChange and leading the company to become a global leader in multi-screen video solutions and growing it into a software focused, profitable, debt-free company. I am also pleased to welcome Raghu Rau in his new role and believe his proven strategic and operational leadership experience in the technology industry and expertise in wireless technologies and network convergence ideally position him to lead the transition of SeaChange to the next level."

In the past few years, SeaChange has remade itself into a specialist in multi-screen video software. The company has been posting profits, and reiterated that it expects to report third-quarter revenues of $52 million to $53 million, within the company's previous guidance.

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