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Video services

Imagine Finds Its Full-Time CEO

Imagine Communications has hired former Envivio Inc. (NASDAQ: ENVI) executive Richard Stanfield as its new CEO, believing him to be the right guy to lead the digital video specialist to the "TV Everywhere" promised land.

Stanfield, who's been on the job for about a week, joins Imagine after serving as COO of IP video encoding vendor Envivio since January 2008.

Envivio, which has similar product and market aims as video compression and encoding specialist Imagine, has been through some big changes of its own, having recently replaced Stanfield with Kevin O'Keefe and raised $15 million. (See Envivio Adds Funds, Alters Brass.)

The move to Imagine offers "a chance for me to run the show," says Stanfield, who was also an EVP and founder of Modulus Video before the MPEG-4 encoding startup was acquired by Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) in June 2007. "I viewed this a nice opportunity where I could participate and really make a difference." (See Motorola to Buy Modulus.)

Stanfield's move comes about five months after Imagine told Light Reading Cable that it was searching for a CEO to replace Jamie Howard, who left the company for good in May. Former HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) executive Sebastiano Tevarotto had been serving as Imagine's interim CEO. (See Imagine Seeking a New CEO and Howard Breaks From Imagine Communications.)

Amid all those changes, Imagine still managed to grab $10 million in fresh funds to invest in product R&D. The startup has raised more than $34 million since it was formed five years ago. (See Imagine Gets More Dough .)

And if Imagine's to stoke its growth engine again, it's going to have to freshen up its product portfolio and pursue a broader set of customers. It made some hay initially with cable MSOs such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) with a video compression system that crams three HD MPEG-2 broadcast feeds into one 6MHz channel without affecting quality, but the revenue growth potential for that product is believed to be shrinking.

In addition to keeping its existing customer base happy, Imagine's now looking to jump on the TV Everywhere wave via a retooled architecture that's designed to encode, transcode, and stream video to TVs, PCs, smartphones, iPads, and other types of devices. Imagine also hopes the product will allow it to expand beyond cable, and into the satellite, telco, and mobile video sectors, and to pursue more business outside the US.

Imagine plans to release that new, base product later this year, but isn't offering much in the way of technical details yet. Stanfield said the intention is to beef up video quality and pursue multiple screens using an architecture that combines software on top of a hardware-based acceleration model. Imagine hopes it can take what's generally good about software-based video architectures -- flexibility -- with what's good on the hardware end -- high video quality and density.

"It [the architecture] will really open up this TV Everywhere market for us," Stanfield says. "Everyone else will end up in this same place. We're just going to be there before anybody else."

Stanfield says he's confident that Imagine has enough cash to get the company to profitability, but isn't predicting when. In the meantime, Imagine, which has fewer than 100 employees today, will be adding staff to help it go after new markets.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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