TiVo’s New CEO Lays Off 50 Employees

TiVo’s new CEO has hit the ground running… with a buzzsaw. In a move aligned with today’s quarterly earnings call, 50 employees and additional contract staff have been laid off to likely reassure investors that the company remains on the path to profitability, despite what I assume to be stagnant retail sales and patent setbacks, by clearing several million dollars from the expense column.

From Multichannel News:

Signaling a greater emphasis on MVPD partnerships and a reduced focus on its retail strategy, TiVo is pushing ahead on a restructuring and reorganization

On the other hand, an anonymous source has characterized this as the unloading of dead weight for a leaner operation rather than a wholesale shift in strategy and abandonment of retail. Indeed, Mutilchannel goes on to indicate that TiVo continues to crank away on consumer offerings, with a new non-DVR product headed to market later this year.

34 thoughts on “TiVo’s New CEO Lays Off 50 Employees”

  1. Guestimates have the TiVo headcount somewhere in the neighborhood of 600-650 employees for reference. Unlike, the last mass layoff, I haven’t yet heard from the disenfranchised and I’m not certain what unit(s) this hits. Having been riffed myself in Silicon Valley once upon a time, I empathize and hope TiVo provided a decent severance package to carry those impacted through a successful job hunt.

  2. It can’t help that their latest product is shaped like a boomerang. I don’t care if it folds laundry in addition to grabbing all of my TV… I’m not buying something that looks like that.

    I guess I’ll sit on the sidelines and wait until the next generation (if the company lasts that long)… or perhaps a “TiVo Bolt Basic” that is designed with some common sense (i.e. flat).

  3. @Lawson Or just buy a Hopper 3. 16 tuners, and more or less everything else TiVo does. Trust me, I was a 15 year TiVo user, and got fed up with the fees, lack of innovation, and half-finished UI’s. Dave’s probably sick of me carrying on about them, but I really am happy I made the switch.

    For me, the only things I miss are the slightly snappier menus, and the remote. The new Carbon UI Dish has is interesting. It’s not perfected yet, but keeps me content. Over a 1/4 of my current Dish bill used to go towards paying for *just* guide data on a handful of OTA channels. Now for $80-ish, I have a zillion channels, 16 tuners, tons of space, and wireless HD (or 4K if you wish) all over the house – via an isolated and dedicated WiFi from Dish.

    Not an employee, just want to make sure that folks know that TiVo isn’t the only game in town now. Dish/DTV used to be abysmal. Can’t speak for DTV, but I really get the sense that Dish is trying.

  4. New non-DVR products? For retail? Interesting. What could it be? A streaming-only box? That doesn’t really make a ton of sense given that their streaming app platform isn’t great. Maybe they’ll put out a modified Android TV box that has all its stock apps plus the Amazon Video app for Android currently allowed only on Sony TVs. Add in a single OTA tuner plus a bit of RAM to allow for pausing and rewinding 30 minutes of live TV. Tie all that together with a voice remote, improved universal search, OnePass, live TV listings and a cheaper non-4k chipset than what’s used in the Bolt. Sell it for $99 and, for the box to work, require a subscription to ad-free Hulu (from which TiVo gets a cut). Might work. Don’t know if dropping the hard drive, three other OTA tuners, and more expensive chipset shaves enough off the BOM cost to allow them to price so aggressively. But honestly, I don’t see a way for them to really compete in the cord-cutter space with a much more expensive product, especially one with an ongoing subscription fee. Beyond that, any product would need far more streaming apps than TiVo currently has on their platform.

  5. Multichannel’s phrasing is “not traditional DVR”, not “non-DVR”. Tivo considers the Bolt to be a non-traditional DVR, so they’re not necessarily expanding outside their wheelhouse.

  6. Several years ago a Blu-ray player with the TiVo interface and their small selection of apps might have made sense. Not sure they’ll get enough attention doing something like that now, even if they partner with a big name CE brand as they did in the past with Toshiba and Pioneer DVD players/burners.

    A streaming box with HDMI pass-thru could work – layer the guide on top, a subset of top shelf apps, put OnePass to work as something not offered by Roku. But their limited app catalog will hurt them. Unless, like you say, they go Android and have more options.

    Wonder if the OTA-only Bolt has been shelved. As designed, it wouldn’t offer much of a cost savings (for TiVo, inc) over the existing Bolt.

    Jim, I asked Jeff at Multichannel what he meant with that line.

  7. “Non traditional DVR” probably refers to the new 4K TiVo Mini to match the 4K Bolt. The Mini 4K will include faster CPU, more DRAM to support instant app load and faster tuning.

  8. So after 15 years of pinching pennies watching OTA TV like it’s 1970 (CBS, NBC, FOX, & ABC) you now have Dish and think it’s better because it has a “zillion” channels? Congratulations on joining the 90+ million households who have cable and already knew this.

    Your problem with TiVo was the fees you paid just to watch FREE OTA. If it wasn’t about money you’d of paid for Cable/Satellite TV or at the very least Lifetime service. I mean you had TiVo for 15 years but were paying fees – who’s fault is that?

    Enjoy the Hopper3 it’s a nice box especially since it isn’t handicapped by CableCard and tuning adapters (SDV) like TiVo is.

    Once TiVo moved off of Flash that was all the innovation I needed. And 3 times a year TiVo releases updates with more software goodies – development paid for by monthly/LT fees – with grown men acting like giddy kids at Christmas time. Last update brought QuickMode and SkipMode to Roamio and HBOGo just showed up. Competition is good for everyone.

  9. I heard back from Jeff and, while not certain, seems to believe they’re talking about something other than a Bolt-esque device. I guess it could be another extender, like Bryan suggests, but why then keep it vague as something they’ve done before.

    From another Multichannel post, after results were in and speaking with CEO:

    Though TiVo has seen its retail business grow in small increments, the plan now is to spend less money trying to acquire retail subs and to spend more on “different classes of products that go beyond the traditional DVR,” the exec said, noting that TiVo will be announcing more details toward the end of 2016.


  10. As always, thanks for the scoop, Dave. “Different classes of product that go beyond the traditional DVR” — hard to imagine how that doesn’t somehow involve streaming. It just seems to be where the world of video entertainment is irrevocably moving, especially once you get outside of the traditional DVR. As you say, it certainly won’t be disc-based. Blu-ray and UHD Blu-ray will live on only as niche products for videophiles and collectors. Certainly no reason for TiVo to jump into that increasingly shallow pool. I still think there’s a space for someone to roll out a product with a top-shelf UI that combines the two sources of video consumed by cord-cutters: live OTA TV and streaming. Solve that problem for a reasonable price and you’ve got a winner.

  11. I wouldn’t mind if Tivo did go into the value-add streaming business. It gets the brand more eyeballs and MAYBE that benefits the DVR line through upsells.

    I could see them 86’ing the OTA Bolt. Judging from the investor call, Naveen seems intent on profit and cutting the fat, and even though OTA is a marginal sub growth opportunity I don’t think it translates to the bottom line since it’s probably just the same box without cablecard mechanisms (and forced to sell more cheaply). If they can eventually push the price of the Bolt down a bit they can probably achieve the same (or better) financial results.

    Still optimistic about a new “pro” DVR and rev3 Mini, though. MSOs will want some kind of normal looking gateway, unless they move to Pace like RCN is.

  12. Maybe something like an OTT box with streaming apps. AT&T just announced that they’re taking DirecTV OTT as a stand alone service, a la’ PS Vue. Maybe TiVo can/will partner with them as their main service provider for cable channels instead of relying on MSOs like Comcast, TWC, Verizon, etc and their crappy Cablecard and tuning adapter solution that also locks you into a contract in most cases.


  13. @Bryan10024 – who said I’d been OTA for 15 years? Try about a year. I said I’d been a *customer* for 15 years. Thanks for explaining cable TV to me, though.

    TiVo has its rabid fans…..(ahem)…. but when you step outside you see that they haven’t innovated since their original product. Year after year of crap like Hulu and HBO Go.

    As I’ve said for years, the only thing keeping them alive has been litigation and lawsuits, and now that the money has dried up, you see the results.

    My only point was, a cheaper and IMO more innovative solution exists today in the Hopper 3. No raunchy ads, weird shaped DVR’s, and monthly subscriptions. Why, they even have a 100% HD menu! I know!

  14. @FrankFurter

    Yep,nothing says innovative like satellite TV. I miss going up on the roof removing snow in the winter and screen pixelation and pauses when it rains or someone goes for a smoke on the roof.

    My disagreeing with you doesn’t make me a rabid fan. I bought my first TiVo in 2003 and sold it 4 months later when TWC rolled out it’s DVR with lifetime $6 monthly fees. I bought TiVo again in 2012 because the latest TWC DVR held only 40hrs HD.

    “I was a 15 year TiVo user, and got fed up with the fees.”

    If you’d of bought Lifetime you wouldn’t have any fees. And the fee is $150/yr or 41 cents a day isn’t worth getting pissy over nor is lack of HD menu. As for innovation – please that’s such a BS argument. The Bolt has many innovations as did Roamio.

    Hopper3 was just released so it should be state-of-the-art and when TiVo releases the Bolt Pro later this year you can compare oranges to oranges. But it’s still satellite.

    HBOGo is the greatest app ever – for those who actually have HBO (ahem) – and not needing to switch over to Roku is nice. Access to all HBO series and 1000 movies is real value add.

    Just need Showtime Anytime and Starz Play.

  15. HarperVision, they already have an IP TV STB in the mix dating back to 2014. So that’s what this is or just a new variant:


    However, if we read the transcript of the call, they’re very clearly working on something new for retail.


    “the launch of a new class of consumer products”

    “an entirely new consumer product we expect to launch later this year”

    Bryan10024, we’ll see if a “Bolt Pro” makes the cut given the new CEO’s strategic direction. If it’s already in the bag and they’ve got production runs line up, I could see them moving forward with say an online-only offering. But I wouldn’t call that unit guaranteed.

  16. @Dave Naveen Chopra is Interim CEO, having served as CFO, so unless he is named CEO it means a new CEO might have their own ideas on the future of TiVo, right? I wonder how long the new class of consumer product from TiVo has been in the works?

    But good point on the Bolt Pro especially with the mention of some cable operators using 3rd party hardware (which you also pointed out).

    As for Bolt Pro – the past 4 years I’ve been using TiVo Premieres and only last month had RCN upgrade my Q to a TiVo Roamio T6. The improvement is so large that I’m good for a few years – or until I buy an LG OLED 4K TV.

    Just the new Roamio RF remote makes me so happy I no longer have to deal with the heavy Bluetooth Slide remote always unpairing itself.

  17. Officially, he is listed as “Interim” — however, given the one year compensation package, and based on his knowledge of the business and vision, I’d say there are a number of folks interested in making it permanent.

    As to the new product, I can’t help but wonder if the Bolt OTA was scrapped (as too pricey and too similar to the Bolt itself). For most companies, a typical dev cycle might be one year. So the timing works out if they pulled the plug on Bolt OTA late last year. Of course, it could be a concurrent development and OTA Bolt is just delayed.

  18. Oh, he is interum. He played the part of the hachet. This so common in business and even the public sector naming “interum” muckie mucks to commence the be-headings. Old Tom just didn’t want to leave with so many he knew such sour tastes in their mouths, as if none of these lay-offs weren’t already discussed, debated, and planned out before Rogers gave his farewell to the troops and assume his “wasn’t my idea” permanent perch on the Board.

    Now that this poor hatchet is universally depised by those who remain, this makes the forthcoming CEO’s job easier and a welcome put out by the few employees left at TiVo. Just another day in businees in the USA.

  19. Bryan10024: you are a TiVo fanboy, but that can be a good thing, often, it is worse for the company one is fanboying for because one is cheering the driver right off the cliff simply because the cheerleader refuses to acknowledge thta big hole the car is about to plummet. As TiVo lays off employeed, Dish/Echostar are refurbishing an iconic building in Denver where they expet to ADD hundreds of jobs in software/engineering. The last sentence is nothing more than facts, very painful ones for TiVo and its fanboys. I feel your pain TiVo. I like TiVo and reccomend it, but I’m not so blind as to say every lacking feature of a TiVo is a good thing or I am satisfied with whatever limitation just because it is TiVo. Even the CMO said it takes too many button presses to get places on a TiVo box. His sense that TiVo could be doing more, or more innovative is both refreshing and GOOD for ALL TiVo users.

    Frank Furter: everything you’ve said is correct. The lack of innovation at TiVo for so long is directly related to the lack of money becase of TiVo’s business model. It NEVER had a chance. It was inevitable. Both DirecTV and Dish have been and are in REAL competition, and this led to innovations for both Genie and now the Hopper3. TiVo was so focussed on getting MVPD’s on board to pay for their (TiVo) product and pay for all marketing and –EVERYTHING–just because they were “TiVo.” In the meantime, TiVo took its eye off the ball and let time pass making their onece highly innovative and easily superior DVR seem behind the times. Add to this that they never had any REAL compeititon in the 3rd party DVR, and this led to a LACK of innovation. No matter the really good, but single tuner, Sony HDG’s, or the Sezi, or the inferior Channel Master, to name a few, TiVo was always the superior DVR, even with its old tech, so none of those alternatives ever provided the urgency to INNOVATE. Oh, and of course, ALL the cable co. DVR’s set the bar so low, TiVo just floated to the top with no innovation.

    Now, as of most recent, the Roamios to repesent some real effort on TiVo’s part and the new features of the Bolt (now to be available for Roamios–good business decision), but it all comes TOO LATE. Let’s hope we finally see PIP with TiVo, that would be a further step in the right direction.

    Listen you guys, I’ve invested in TiVo, and I want TiVo to still be around so our DVR’s still function. I think the Roamio–more than the bolt–is the best TiVo ever and deserves its with Genie and Hopper, but as the 3rd best, not #1, I’m being realistic here. There is still some that even the Roamios lack or some features like the Stream perform inferior (PQ and reliability) to say Dish/Sling streaming tech.

    Let’s get back to the main point and forget about whose toy is better than someone else’s: TiVo is preparing to leave the retail end of the business as we know it, and mostly because of its own business decisions. That’s not to say TiVo non-traditional DVR tech won’t be in any coming streamers or other products, but it may NOT be braded as TiVo-anything. The real thing any of us should be concerned about is how TiVo is going to treat is current retail subscribers. I would hope the keep all the DVR functions going and all the “innovative” features, as well, but I would not expect them to incur costs to keeping the OTT stuff alive. I think a Roamio neutered of OTT is still an excellent DVR and worth saving.

  20. I just finished listening to yesterday’s webcast from Morgan Stanley’s TMT conference interviewing Naveen Chopra. Once again he wasn’t very forthcoming about the commercial product but I can speculate based on his commentary. I think the TiVo Bolt OTA has been scrapped as Dave suggests. I think the new product will be a TiVo Bolt OTT box that integrates linear streaming content via Sling TV with OTT apps, includes OnePass and Discovery.

    Complete speculation on my part but I’m contemplating some sort of Cloud aspect of the service that allows a consumer to record the live TV and store it in the Cloud where there might be the ability to use SkipMode on the recorded content.

  21. Strike that last part of my comment about recording… Streaming service providers like Sling TV, Amazon Prime Instant Video and Netflix often have legal agreements with content providers that prevent them from enabling DVR-type functions on their own services.

  22. Naveen did mention that many providers are moving to IP delivery of content and that aspect of the business could get interesting for consumers. Perhaps TiVo could forge agreements with some content networks that would allow recording of their content.

  23. @HarrKerryJr. Not sure why TiVo laying of 50 people is being treated like a hatchet job or huge cost cutting measure. Times change and companies need to change with it or perish and that means occasionally reorganizing/realigning the companies workforce. Especially in light of acquiring Cubiware And DigitalSmiths where overlap is bound to happen with offices now spread out over San Jose, Denver, Durham, Lasi – Romania, Maynard, NY and Warsaw, Poland!

    Many companies follow GE’s Jack Welch’s ranking of workers and laying off 5-10% of their workforce EVERY YEAR to get rid of under-performers. Where’s the anger at all those companies?!

    While layoffs suck, it’s better than just being fired due to benefit packages, I see this as a positive for TiVo.

  24. Sam Biller, you may still be correct about DVR functionality in your speculative TiVo streamer. At least for SlingTV, which you mentioned, Charlie Ergen did say that DVR functionality, along with other top requests and peeves, is “being addressed.” He is well aware of how loudly current and potential subs value DVR functionality. I would not expect something on DVR functionality soon, but perhaps, IMHO, late this year or early next, but now that DirecTV plans to launch a competing service to SlingTV, this may motivate Dish to bring DVR functionality sooner than later. Competition is GOOD.

  25. Any see the news that PlayStation Vue’s base package, now including locals, ESPN and 60+ other cable channels, plus cloud DVR, is available for $40 a month? I imagine we’ll see something very similar from both Vidgo and DirecTV OTT later this year. Maybe someone can figure out a way to offer something similar but with fewer channels — perhaps SlingTV (same line-up, still sans locals) with full cloud DVR functionality for $28 a month. I really don’t see the economics of the TV biz allowing for a much better bargain to consumers than that.

  26. And it’s really not much of a bargain, beyond repurposing existing (gaming/streaming) hardware (and it’s still regionally limited). My monthly Verizon bill is $85 for 50/50 Internet and a whole lot of TV. If I drop the TV, my broadband bill would be $68. So… (This doesn’t include my $5 CableCARD rental.)

  27. Dave, it can be a huge bargain, depending on how many TVs you have in the house because you can save a LOT of money on additional outlet fees and all the other bogus MSO fees and even the TiVo monthly charge. What PS Vue charges is what you pay, nothing more.

    The best way I have found to watch Vue is with FireTV boxes now that it offers the “Explore” and Guide just like the PS3/4. I like it so much now that I bought 3 FireTV boxes to use as my one stop shop for all live TV, DVR, VoD, streaming apps (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, HBONow, etc.). Using the FireTVs that I got for only $85 each is like only having to buy a TiVo mini to watch all your programming and not the large expense of the main host TiVo like a Roamio or Bolt.

    Of course you have to live in one of the areas that offers Vue (or VPN), but I think it’ll get widespread in the not too distant future. They seem like they’re getting more aggressive and I think with the looming advent of DirecTV Now OTT, that’ll push them even more.

  28. Yeah, that makes sense if the reliability is there. For me, the TiVo hardware is a sunk cost (with no fees) and while Verizon’s billing can be screwy, it’s usually in relation to their hardware which I avoid. My plan is $84.99, no outlet or HD fees but $7 in spurious broadcast and sports fees. Maybe I’ll check out Vue on VPN to compare to the crazy Sling TV UI.

  29. It definitely needs to be a strong, fast, reliable VPN and have 10Mbps+ available. I wasn’t going to use Vue when I did my initial testing with my PS3 Slim because I was only getting about 2-3Mbps and the quality wasn’t that good. Then when I heard they added FireTV support I tried my FTV box via wired ethernet and for some reason using this device had much better download speeds that peg the meter, which results in extremely nice picture quality! So as I said I bought 2 more for $85 each on sale at BB and Amazon. I HIGHLY recommend using FireTV boxes if you’re going to use Vue, but I must admit I haven’t tried a PS4 yet.

  30. I only pay $70 a month for FiOS Ultimate HD(as part of a bundle). For only $70 I get over 155 HD channels. Including most of the Premium HD channels(except for HBO and Starz). Combine that with my TiVo Bolts and Minis and it’s great solution. Giving me access to much more content than anything like the Vue or Sling service can give me.

Comments are closed.