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Video hardware

Imagine Seeking a New CEO

Imagine Communications is looking for a new CEO to lead it into the emerging mobile and Internet video markets, Light Reading Cable has learned.

Current president and CEO Jamie Howard will continue in that role until a replacement is found and will stay on the San Diego-based startup's board after that.

Sources say the board made that decision Wednesday. Imagine confirmed it Friday afternoon, noting in a statement that Howard and the board spent the past year working on an "expansion and succession strategy."

"Given that both the company’s foundation and financial momentum are now in place, Howard and the board believe that the timing is right for implementing the succession strategy by recruiting an experienced leader from the emerging Internet and mobile video markets," the company said, noting that a search for a new CEO is already underway.

Imagine, a company founded in 2005, initially got traction with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and other still-undisclosed MSOs for a video compression system that multiplexes three high-def MPEG-2 broadcast feeds into one 6MHz channel with no impact on quality. Imagine and other vendors are also developing 4:1 compression technology for MPEG-2 HD signals. (See Comcast Unit Sizes Up 4:1 HD Compression .)

Imagine noted Friday that its ICE Video Platform is deployed on a number of "top tier" North American cable networks, processing video streams being viewed by more than 25 million US cable subscribers.

The company has also been developing products that provide similar bandwidth efficiency gains for switched digital video (SDV) and video-on-demand (VoD) signals, but it has yet to announce any deployments for those. (See Imagine Raises the Bandwidth Bar .)

Sources say the Imagine board, seeing business flatten out for its 3:1 broadcast HD technology, has accelerated the development of products for mobile and Internet video applications, areas with more near-term growth potential. In addition to finding a CEO who can lead Imagine in that direction, the company will continue boosting R&D in those areas, sources say.

But the expected change up top is just one of several big changes that have occurred there lately. Several executives, including Lorenzo Bombelli (VP of product strategy), Brian Bentley and Jeff DeLazaro (VPs of sales), and Marc Tayer (SVP of marketing and business development) have left in recent months.

Imagine has started to fill those gaps. Earlier this month, it hired Bob Stankosh to VP of sales for North America and Brian Cotter to regional VP of sales. Stankosh is late of Xavient Information Systems, an IT consulting firm, and BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND). Cotter joined Imagine from NXP Semiconductors N.V. (Nasdaq: NXPI), and has held executive posts at Pace plc , EGT Inc. (now part of Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS)), and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT).

Executive churn isn't the only disruption Imagine's been dealing with. It's still tangled up with BigBand in pending lawsuits pertaining to patents on advanced video processing techniques. (See BigBand Throws the Book at Imagine.)

Carmel Ventures , Columbia Capital , and Court Square Ventures LLC are listed as Imagine's investors.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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