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Tandberg's Cooney Changes Channels

Jeff Baumgartner
1/30/2009

Eric Cooney, the man who helped Tandberg Television establish a cable presence in the U.S., has left the company to take the top job at struggling content distribution network (CDN) specialist Internap Network Services Corp. (Nasdaq: INAP). (See Cooney Leaves Tandberg.)

Cooney, 42, takes the helm of Atlanta-based Internap as president and CEO, the same title held at Tandberg Television, but with one addition: He'll also become director of the Internap board. He is replacing James DeBlasio, who is staying on as president and CEO until Cooney joins Internap officially on March 16. A Tandberg official said a search for Cooney's replacement is already underway.

Internap investors welcomed, but didn't go crazy on the news, with shares rising 11 cents (4.17%) to $2.75 each in midday trading Friday.

"This is the right time to bring new leadership to Internap as it continues to grow and I believe that Eric will be able to take the company to the next level of performance," DeBlasio said, in a statement.

Cooney declined a request to be interviewed about the move to Internap, but people familiar with his leadership style say he certainly likes a challenge. If that's the case, the recent conditions surrounding Internap should give Cooney just that, and then some.

For starters, Cooney will have to work some magic to help Internap in the CDN category and get a return on the $217 million it paid for VitalStream in the fall of 2006. (See Internap Buys VitalStream and Internap Founder: VitalStream Buy 'Disappointing'.) Cooney takes over Internap as the company seeks to reverse a trend that has seen sales in its CDN segment decline for three consecutive quarters. Last year, Internap posted overall revenues of $65.4 million, up 8 percent, buoyed by its data center and IP transit divisions. However, CDN-related revenues dipped to $5 million, versus $5.6 million in the previous period.

Cooney will certainly have his hands full trying to straighten out Internap, but his experience at Tandberg Television indicates that he can help companies gain footholds and grow in new markets. Under his leadership, Tandberg Television planted its flag on the domestic cable biz when it put up $120 million for privately held N2 Broadband, a maker of video-on-demand (VoD) and digital video backoffice systems. Right away, that deal provided Tandberg with an MSO client list that included Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), and Cox Communications Inc. It also gave Tandberg a foot in the door to sell its high-end digital video gear to the domestic cable crowd.

Cooney also has some experience as the smaller fish in these deals. Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) sealed a deal to snap up Tandberg Television for roughly $1.4 billion, trumping an original offer by Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS). (See Ericsson: Tandberg Is Key to IPTV, Tandberg Board Backs Ericsson Bid , Arris Drops Tandberg TV Bid , and Ericsson Offers $1.4B for Tandberg TV.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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