TiVo CEO Rogers Bows Out at Critical Time
At a time when TiVo's retail business faces major new hurdles, and its service provider business is under continuous pressure to evolve, the company has announced that CEO Tom Rogers will be stepping down at the end of January 2016. Rogers, who has served as CEO of TiVo for nearly 11 years, will remain with the company as non-executive Chairman of the Board. TiVo said in a statement that the Board of Directors has already formed a search committee to seek out its next chief executive officer.
Along with revealing Rogers' departure, TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) also announced that board member Dan Moloney, former president of Motorola Mobility, is now taking on the role of lead independent director. Typically, a lead independent director provides a counterweight to corporate executive management and is expected to be an advocate for shareholder interests.
In his tenure at Motorola, Moloney spent the bulk of his time running the company's pay-TV set-top business, which was in competition with TiVo. Since leaving Motorola, Moloney has made a living serving on multiple boards. His current roles include executive chairman at Digital River, executive chairman at Stratus Technologies and executive partner at Siris Capital, in addition to his position with TiVo.
Rogers won't exit TiVo as CEO without a departing gift. Upon leaving, he will receive $4.6 million plus any applicable performance bonus. He will also benefit from "accelerated vesting of all equity-related awards … and continued health and welfare coverage for up to 24 months."
While TiVo was born as a retail DVR business, the company has shifted operations dramatically since it launched its first DVR in 1999. Now, TiVo's retail operations in particular are facing headwinds*, and CMO Ira Bahr was fairly blunt in a recent online chat when he acknowledged that compared to "the millions of streamers out there, and the tens of millions of DVRs out there … [TiVo's] got a lot of ground to make up." (See TiVo's Retail Fortunes Flag.)
The company is hoping to gain better traction at retail with the launch of products it believes offer more mass-market appeal, such as the new TiVo Bolt. It's also taking the TiVo platform virtual, and for the first time last month made the TiVo experience available as an app on Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN)'s Fire TV.
As CEO, Rogers has presided over greater success for his company in the pay-TV provider channel. TiVo now counts 70 operators as customers, with the bulk of its deployments taking place outside North America. Notably, TiVo said last week that it now has more than 4 million international subscriptions in its worldwide tally. Major international customers include Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY)'s Virgin Media in the UK, Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) in Spain and Com Hem AB in Sweden. (See TiVo Tops 4 Million International Subs.)
There are concerns in the service provider market too, however. Specifically in the US, TiVo is fighting to get the pay-TV market to open up further access to video content and metadata so that it can continue to innovate with new products that blend traditional TV and over-the-top services.
In another strategic move, TiVo is also now drawing attention to the value of its TV viewing data collected from subscriber set-tops. The company says it will give away free ratings data, starting in the first quarter of 2016. It also announced this month that it is partnering with Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA) on new targeted advertising solutions. (See TiVo Promises Free Set-Top Data in Q1 2016 and TiVo, Viacom Team on Ad Targeting.)
*TiVo notes that while the net number of TiVo-owned subscriptions are down, gross additions are up 37%, making this the "eighth straight quarter with double-digit growth." A spokesperson adds: "'Gross' is a critical metric for TiVo as it describes the new subs the company gets. It’s the best measure of success of the company’s products and recent innovation. The net number is not representative of the current TiVo offering as most has come from attrition due to old standard definition boxes."
Editor's note: While gross additions are a positive indicator, TiVo is still losing more customers than it gains on a quarterly basis. New additions also include not only full-featured TiVo set-tops, but also the lower-price TiVo Mini devices.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading