RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser Buys $10 Million in Napster Stock

Napster Settles with Songwriter David Lowery
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RealNetworks founder, chairman, and CEO Rob Glaser has invested $10 million in his company’s stock. 

According to the SEC filing, Glaser’s investment in RealNetworks, which was funded personally, translates to 8,064,516 shares, with each costing about $1.24. Upon the purchase’s announcement, RealNetworks’ stock, traded under the symbol RNWK, saw its value jump by about 25 percent. 

Early last year, RealNetworks bought the majority of Rhapsody International, parent company of the digital music store (and former P2P sharing network) Napster; RealNetworks previously owned a minority stake in the company. RealNetworks assumed ownership of around 84% of outstanding Rhapsody stock, doubling its stake overnight. In the third quarter of 2019, Napster brought RealNetworks additional revenue and additional expenses, with the latter resulting in an uptick in operating losses. 

In a statement, Glaser said that he had used $1 million of his own money to start RealNetworks in 1994, and that he was happy to back the business today. 

Glaser, a former Microsoft executive, has been the chairman and CEO of RealNetworks since it debuted; the company was named Progressive Networks between 1994 and 1997. Notably, Tony Fadell—“The Father of the iPod”—worked at RealNetworks for six weeks in 2000, until substantial disagreements with Glaser forced him to depart. He was then hired by Apple. 

RealNetworks achieved substantial success during the late 1990s and early 2000s, but most of its digital and computer services were rendered obsolete with the advent of today’s media and tech giants. The brand has since attempted to diversify its investments and products in an effort to remain competitive. 

Per a recently released 2019 financial report, RealNetworks earned a total of $172.1 million in 2019, up from $69.5 million in 2018 (though $106.3 million of the former figure derived from Napster). Additionally, the brand’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) came in at a loss of over $20 million, up from a loss of about $16 million in 2018. 

One Response

  1. Trudy McMurphy

    And in other news…Shawn Fanning just completed his 1st year waiting tables at the San Jose Chili’s. Congrats, big guy!