Starting first thing this morning, our office was inundated with multiple sources contacting us by phone and email to tell us that something big was happening over at Sunnyvale, CA-based, media-server company Kaleidescape. While there were minor variations on the stories we received, they all came down to the same thing – an exit of several employees, including some top executives, from the company.
See what’s changed at Kaleidescape…
Although we had seen no official announcement from the company, we immediately began reaching out to many of those said to be affected…including the company itself. We were told that both Michael Malcolm and Cheena Srinivasan (two of the original founders of Kaleidescape) were tied up in meetings and not available in the early afternoon (late morning their local time) to speak with us.
According to multiple sources, Tom Furlong (CEO), Bob Wood (VP Sales), Beth Russell (helped with operational planning, according to the company), and Tina Alamar (sales) have all left the company. The news is particularly surprising given the fact that some of these employees have relatively short tenures at the company. Furlong, for example, was announced as joining the company as CEO in December 2013, just about two months ago.
Kaleidescape responds…sort of…
By mid-afternoon, we received a call from Angelika Stalman, Kaleidescape VP of Marketing. She told us that their CEO – Cheena Srinivasan – asked her to return the call in his behalf, as they assumed I was looking for product information.
Stalman wanted to talk…but only about products. She was very persistent in rattling off an almost non-stop monologue of the many significant Kaleidescape product developments and achievements.
No comment…sort of…
As we brought her back to the personnel changes, Stalman gave us a firm “no comment.” She did, however, acknowledge that each of the employees we asked her about are in fact no longer with the company.
Stalman downplayed these developments, telling us that in the case of Furlong, he hadn’t been with the company long enough to make a significant impact. As we began to ask about some of the other employees who exited, she stopped us:
“I wouldn’t want to comment on that,” Stalman told us. “We’re extremely well-positioned right now with our new line of products, with our dealers and our channels…we’ve had a phenomenal year. We just launched the first Blu-ray-quality download store and we’ve seen tremendous success there. And we’ve gone extremely strong with signing up key studios like Warner Brothers and Lionsgate…and we’re in intense negotiations to bring the other five major studios on board. So we have an amazing year ahead of us and incredibly strong partnerships that we are going to work through this year. So I can talk to you about products but I don’t want to comment on employee matters.”
Only comments on CEO…
Even though Stalman said she didn’t want to comment on employee matters, she did want to tell us that the company has absolutely the best man for the job in Cheena Srinivasan as the current CEO.
“He has always played a key role – he led the negotiations of the license agreement with Warner Brothers and he enabled the first Internet delivery of Blu-ray-quality movies. He was also the driving force in bringing UltraViolet to the Kaleidescape Store, which was a huge partnership that we established giving our customers the ability to access the movies on mobile devices,” Stalman said. “Cheena also guided Kaleidescape in bringing all these vertically integrated platforms that allows content owners to transition from a disc-based distribution strategy to digital ownership thanks to our online store and thanks to this UltraViolet relationship. So we’re supporting a completely new model that allows you to not just watch your movies on Kaleidescape, but also on any device. And again, Cheena has been with the company from the beginning – so there’s really nobody better.”
So, we asked Stalman, you sound pretty confident in Srinivasan’s leadership. “Oh I’m absolutely…absolutely thrilled with that because its been always like he’s the one who really knows this business inside and out,” Stalman blurted out enthusiastically. “He knows our dealers. He knows the custom install market. He just really understands the ins and outs of the overall business.”
Stalman seemed annoyed as we asked about lower level employees such as Russell or Alamar. She told us that in her mind they had nothing to do with any management changes at the company because they were not in management. In fact, she chafed at the idea that these employee changes were newsworthy.
When we persisted with our questions, suggesting to her that changes in management can be material, and at the very least, are of interest to many of our readers – Stalman replied, “I would say the management of the company has been the same for the last 13 years. It’s one of the most stable companies that you can find in this industry.”
All we know so far…
As Stalman refused any further comment on the employee situation – and current CEO Srinivasan did not return our phone calls – we were unable to discover whether there were any other employees who left the company in this wave. We also can not say what the circumstances were surrounding the departure of these employees and executives – whether, for example, they were dismissed or whether they voluntarily left the company. We made several attempts to contact the employees, but we received no responses by the time this story was posted.
Kaleidescape employs about 120 people in total. Many of them, including key managers, have been with the company for ten years or more, Stalman assured us. And management talks to dealers every day, she said. Dealers need not worry about this news as the company’s management is in good shape, she told us.
The company will be putting out some type of statement on the situation on Monday, Stalman said. When the company puts out a statement, we will run it here as well.
For more information on Kaleidescape, see: www.kaleidescape.com.