The search is on for a new CEO at CableLabs now that current CEO and President Paul Liao has opted not to renew his contract.

Liao's contract is set to expire in December of next year. He gave his notice last week to CableLabs' executive committee in New York but plans to fulfill his contract. Liao cited personal reasons for his decision not to seek a renewal of his contract.

CableLabs said in a press release this morning that its executive committee agreed to execute a succession plan and begin the search for a new CEO immediately to ensure a smooth transition prior to Liao's departure. Liao will continue as CableLabs' president and CEO during the transition.

"I've felt truly honored to be working with a tremendous group of people, both at CableLabs and throughout the cable industry. With new technologies emerging every day, it is an extremely exciting time for the cable industry, and specifically for CableLabs. I remain fully committed to the team at CableLabs and will support the efforts of the board in its search for my successor," Liao said.

Compared to previous CEO and President Dick Green – who had a 20-year run at the cable operator consortium as its only president and CEO since its inception in 2008 – Liao's tenure was relatively short. He was named president and CEO in June 2009.

"Although Paul has been with CableLabs for a relatively short period of time, his contributions have been great and include establishing new programs that are helping the industry grow its broadband and commercial businesses, as well as drive cable's ability to provide services to smart CE devices using IP technology," said Glenn Britt, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable and chairman of the CableLabs board. "CableLabs continues to provide the technical expertise and support necessary to enable industry growth at a time of rapidly changing technology. Building on its past accomplishments, CableLabs will continue to play this critical role in our industry's current and future success."

Liao came over to CableLabs after serving as Panasonic North America's chief technology officer and vice president. As far as CableLabs specifications go, Liao was intimately familiar with OpenCable due to Panasonic's work on tru2way projects with cable operators such as Comcast. While at Panasonic, he led the company's technology direction and research development in North America.

Prior to joining Panasonic, Liao held a number of positions at Bell Communications Research (Bellcore) and Bell Laboratories. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University and is a recipient of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Millennium Medal.

Liao's appointment as president and CEO seemed to indicate that CableLabs was willing to work with new partners in the ecosystem due to his consumer electronics experience.

CableLabs is now faced with either continuing along those lines or finding someone with more technical experience from within the cable operator ranks.

The day after it was announced that Liao was taking over the helm at CableLabs, Comcast CEO and Chairman Brian Roberts said during an earnings call that CableLabs’ search committee wanted to recommit to CableLabs being a CEO-led organization during the search for Green's replacement instead of installing someone with a purely technical background.