Two of the top executive spots at interactive guide provider Gemstar-TV Guide have new people filling the posts, and the news was made official today.
Out is Dr. Henry Yuen, a former patent attorney and co-founder of the company who has held the chairman and CEO top spot since August 1994. Also out is Elsie Leung, the company's chief financial officer. Both leave after securing sizable termination payments; Yuen will get $22 million, Leung $7 million.
Replacing Yuen as CEO is Jeff Shell, who has held the COO position since April. Paul Haggerty will assume the role of acting CFO.
Yuen won't be out of the picture completely at Gemstar-TV Guide; he'll remain chairman of the board of directors in a non-executive capacity, and will head a new international business development unit. Leung will also stay on as a member of the board and participate in the company's international business development efforts.
The anticipated changes at Gemstar-TV Guide-the undisputed market leader for interactive program guides with cable operators across North America-may be an indication of a new direction at the company. Gemstar to this point has protected the intellectual property of its IPG products ruthlessly, dragging competitive program guide providers through seemingly interminable lawsuits in state and federal courts across the country.
Gemstar's strategy directly reflected the background of its former leader. Yuen is a former attorney and inventor of Gemstar's core VCR Plus+ Instant Programming System, and fear of litigation at his behest kept many providers from even testing competitive guide platforms.
However, rulings against Gemstar finally came down in many of the cases the company had filed against its competitors. Those losses handed down after years of litigation seemed to catalyze Gemstar's parent company News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch to make sweeping changes in leadership at the company.