Light Reading Cable reported on Liao's imminent exit on Thursday, with multiple sources saying he intends to leave the post within six months. One cable insider familiar with the situation said CableLabs's MSO membership is anxious to find a replacement sooner than that, which could bring forward Liao's exit date. Liao, who informed the CableLabs Executive Committee of his decision last week, will continue in his current role during the transition. (See CableLabs CEO Liao Sets His Exit.)
In the release, CableLabs said Liao decided not to renew his contract "due to personal reasons," and did not elaborate. "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, in a statement.
"Although Paul has been with CableLabs for a relatively short period of time his contributions have been great," Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) Chairman and CableLabs Chairman Glenn Britt said in a statement, pointing to work and programs tied to broadband, commercial services and IP-connected consumer electronic devices.
Liao was named CEO of CableLabs in June 2009, succeeding the retiring Dr. Richard Green. One of the key roles of CableLabs is to develop interoperability specifications and to perform certification and qualification testing on cable modems, cable modem terminations systems (CMTSs), set-tops and other cable gear. Docsis, PacketCable, Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) and tru2way are among its higher-profile projects.
Why this matters
Liao's departure will lead to speculation about who will succeed him, and some are already guessing that CableLabs's MSO masters will recruit hard for a cable engineering vet rather than going outside again, as they did with Liao, the former CTO of Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC).
There are also rumblings about the future of CableLabs and what role it can effectively play in an industry that continues to consolidate, with much of its power and influence wielded by major MSOs such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and TW Cable. But this comment from Britt seemingly attempts to sweep aside such concerns: "Building on its past accomplishments, CableLabs will continue to play this critical role in our industry's current and future success."
Liao's departure also casts some doubt on the long-term future of a San Francisco office that CableLabs opened recently -- a decision that was approved by the CableLabs board when Liao was hired. Although the new office has ruffled some feathers at CableLabs's Colorado headquarters, the CableLabs board is believed to remain enthusiastic about the idea.
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- Liao Puts the CE in CableLabs
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable