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Video software

Zodiac Names Former Comcast Exec as CEO

Set-top box and device software specialist Zodiac announced Tuesday that Derek Harrar, a former Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) executive, has been named CEO.

Harrar, who once served as SVP and GM of Comcast's video and entertainment services unit, is entering that role about three years after joining the Zodiac board of directors, when a private equity firm, One Equity Partners , invested in Zodiac and took a majority ownership position.

Harrar replaces Brandon Brown, an exec who took the helm of Zodiac in 2009 following a career that included time at General Electric and Lockheed Martin. (See Zodiac Signs CEO.)

Zodiac didn't elaborate on why it is making a leadership change, nor comment about any other changes beyond the shift in the CEO position. But Harrar said that his priority is to focus on Zodiac's large Tier 1 customers, who are based predominantly in North America. The plan, he added, is also to apply what Zodiac has learned to other regions around the globe.

Charter Communications Inc. is a big customer of Zodiac's, using the vendor's software stack for its new Spectrum Guide product and the WorldBox, a hybrid QAM/IP set-top that uses downloadable security.

Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) is on board for a "2.0" version of the WorldBox hardware. Charter is also using ActiveVideo, a cloud video company now jointly owned by Arris and Charter to bring the Spectrum Guide to the WorldBox as well as Charter's base of legacy, non-IP set-top boxes. (See Charter Deals Arris In on WorldBox 2.0 and Arris, Charter Nab ActiveVideo for $135M.)

Charter has been quiet about the rollout of the WorldBox during its recent earnings calls. Charter has been asked about the status of Zodiac's role at the MSO, but has not responded to that request as of this writing. An industry source said Zodiac is under consideration to provide a new HTML-5 browser engine for that platform.

On its Q4 2017 call in February, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said Charter had rolled out more than 2 million WorldBox units.

Zodiac hasn't announced anything new or different regarding its relationship with Charter. Of recent note, it demonstrated its platform at IBC with new partner, MediaKind (formerly Ericsson Media Solutions). (See IBC2018: What MediaKind Did Next.)

In September, Zodiac said MediaKind was using its software stack to bring its MediaFirst TV user experience to multiple set-top boxes. At IBC, Zodiac was showing MediaFirst running on current-gen HD-DVR boxes from Humax Co. Ltd. running Broadcom silicon, an older (circa 2010) Samsung box with a Broadcom chip and Zodiac's "Zebra" lightweight browser, as well as an older-than-the-hills Motorola DCT-2500 standard-definition box running MediaFirst's UX via the Zodiac stack.

Harrar hinted that additional partnerships are in the works.

ActiveVideo and Zodiac have also done some joint work with Cable Bahamas, and Zodiac has also been involved in video projects at two Canada-based MSOs -- Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) and Videotron Ltd. -- as well as Cablevision Systems (now part of Altice USA ). (See Stars Align for Zodiac & ActiveVideo , Zodiac: One Software Stack to Rule Them All and Videotron Plays Games With Zodiac.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

nerdavenger 12/30/2018 | 10:46:33 AM
CEO change rationale I'd like to say the CEO change is meant to fix the ethics problems that have plagued Zodiac for years, including blatant IP theft in the Power Up VBS, but most likely it is because of chronic execution problems with the WorldBox stack and backend microservices.
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