Key Product Personnel Depart TiVo

While Xperi disclosed retail TiVo roadmap adjustments at their quarterly call, my research indicates there has also been a significant TiVo employee realignment and exodus… that apparently didn’t warrant a mention from leadership beyond, “lower personnel expense.” It seems notable product management departures this spring include VP Chris Thun, along with much of his team, and SVP/GM Michael Hawkey.

In my estimation, the level of brain drain (both voluntary and those riffed) would indeed be relevant to a lofty multiyear plan to metamorphize their Android TV-powered consumer offering into a custom television OS pitched to manufacturers. Including an ongoing need to maintain or, preferably, increase the current Stream 4k stick userbase — given my perception of our revised role as beta testers, proving out the new experience (while, perhaps, generating a little incremental revenue).

Whether you (my typical audience of fellow gadget geeks) back their current approach or not, I can’t imagine the ongoing personnel changes and lost institutional+industry knowledge are beneficial to current and future projects. Not to mention, among the dearly departed, are a number of consumer advocates that were solidly in our corner. Given some of the names and roles I’m aware of, it all kinda feels like the drawing down of direct-to-consumer sales. With implications that could reverberate beyond. Not that this most recent round of layoffs (and defections) is entirely surprising — seems par for the course given years of executive shuffling with divergent prioritization. And, apparently, beefing up the the patent portfolio outweighs retaining skilled personnel.

I inquired with Xperi PR (twice) for comment, but received no response as of yet. Had they engaged, I imagine it’d have been the typical post-merger ‘synergies‘ boilerplate that downplays the scale of churn as not material, emphasizes they remain committed to consumer sales, and asserts they’re well positioned to scale Everest, doncha worry. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(graphic via blogography)

9 thoughts on “Key Product Personnel Depart TiVo”

  1. While much bloodletting has occurred under Xperi’s watch, it seems to me that the wheels may have been set in motion under Dave Shull’s Rovi — an executive seemingly brought in solely to oversee the divestment of corporate assets.

    By the by, LinkedIn is still blogger gold. Amongst other discoveries, looks like a number of UX/UI specialists have recently jumped ship to rejoin Margret Schmidt (aka the former “TiVoDesign”) over at Roku. I suspect folks know the dealio and many with skills will seek out new homes before it’s their turn (or their product’s) on the chopping block. It’s all pretty sad.

    Full disclosure: I have never bought, sold, or held a position in Xperi. However, I do possess three shares of Roku and about $7 of dogecoin

    PS I’m only naming VP and above. Rank and file get some privacy. I’ll even extend that policy to the guy who became VP just weeks ago, to presumably fill the void. :)

  2. Its very sad to see Tivo coming to an end like this. As others, I’ve been there from the very early days with a Phillips 30GB model. We still use our Tivos every day with a Roamio, 2 bolts and some minis (plus a premier serving as a mini) but our main Bolt already was replaced once for hard drive heat death and it needs to be rebooted at least every week or 2 because its stuck sleeping. I just still am unsure that we’ll do as a replacement when the day comes because going al-a-carte with streaming seems like it will be just as expensive and I still need internet anyway.

    Tivo as a brand is dead — their streaming stick never felt very well thought out — entering an already saturated market competing against all of the big names was never going to be a winning strategy and they keep shooting themselves in the foot with their DVR brand.

  3. Yea, sad. Like Spock said, “Tivo has been, and always shall be, my friend”… but they’re clearly turning the lights off. If they’d let me have more than 12 boxes on my account, or an Apple TV app, they’d still be relevant for me for years – but they won’t. And Spectrum is making it nearly impossible to get a cable card these days. I can’t imagine they’re selling boxes in 3 years, and I guess Channels will the void for me.

  4. The exodus of the “old timers”, like Margret Schmidt, began when Rovi acquired TiVo and the wheels started falling off back then. And basically who was left after the Xperia takeover jumped ship. TiVo provides smaller cable companies the CableCARD version of the Edge DVR with custom firmware. And as Arris/Commscope has been manufacturing TiVo DVRs, starting with the last models of the Bolt series, I wouldn’t be surprised if Xperia sells off the DVR business to Arris/Commscope, while continuing to provide the program guide and DVR service. That is their moneymaker.

  5. Brett, torpedoing those nearly complete streaming apps was the final straw for me and my DVR. That’s when we migrated to Channels. We still have cable, but when we next move that’s likely going away too… and I’ll have some new DVR decisions to make.

    Richard, there have been several inflection points over many, many years, including the possibility of killing retail under Rovi (obviously they didn’t) and we did discuss the hardware manufacturing transition. More than just “jumping ship” going on – I believe there to have been at least two rounds of layoffs under Xperi. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I suspect Xperi is carrying on Rovi’s later stage playbook to strip things down and sell the parts. Or a specific part. But they could be putting the asset at risk. FYI, beyond Arris, TiVo leans on Evoution Digital for their operator tier Android IPTV hardware. And there was that 2017 Philips PVR that seemingly never happened.

    Jared Newman got a little more out of Xperi PR that indicates additional Android TV dongles are on the roadmap and that the company is continuing to make and support hardware.

  6. They could have easily leveraged their brand name and transition to the OTT world. Offer a tivo branded ‘cable’ streaming package, that integrates with their native user interface/hardware and a real dvr that would be so much better than the all the cloud dvr and streaming service nonsense that is available today.

  7. I recall you quitting tivo over pre-roll ads Dave. But then you bought a tivo stream for $50.00.

    Now it looks like Stream is on its deathbed and OTA DVR is subbed out to Channel Master.

    I wonder if any of you feel dupped for buying a TIVO Stream.

  8. Nah, the TiVo Stream was a blog expenditure. And I own just about one of everything. It’s kinda my job here. :)

    https://twitter.com/davezatz/status/1312046143803731968?s=21

    https://twitter.com/davezatz/status/1312052850936164355?s=21

    Pre-roll definitely rubbed me the wrong way (Fall 2019) and had me contemplating my future with TiVo. What pushed me over the edge was the cancellation of the streamer apps (disclosed January 2020).

    Our current primary household television device is an Nvidia SHIELD, which also serves as the Channels DVR hub. The lifetimed TiVo has been unplugged on a shelf in the basement storage room well over a year now. Keeping it around, should it ever be needed for blog purposes — but even when, effectively, “free” it’s not how I choose to consume TV.

  9. @Bryan: TiVo could have done many things, but it has suffered (from the perspective of the type of person who comes to Zatz Not Funny!) from a relatively recently former CEO who almost seemed to be anti-DVR (imagine that, at a DVR-based company), rather than being a real innovator. Even TiVo’s current foray into streaming is as a Johnny-come-lately, with tech. purchased from the outside.

    If you think of it, TiVo was well ahead of, or at least on par with, the times in earlier years, having an industry-leading DVR that had streaming capability built into it. (I even remember the days when video podcasts could be amassed onto your TiVo box, like any broadcast show.) But then matters stalled, dramatically, rather then the innovation and development curve continuing on. And more than simply stalling, TiVo also (infamously, in my mind) sometimes has abandoned already-developed-and-instituted functionalities, such as the aforementioned podcast aggregation and, most recently, Alexa control of the DVR–yeah, as we all know, no one wants the possibility of Alexa control of their devices nowadays . . . . It’s as if the vision was going (or gone) and, indeed, almost made to be seen as an enemy.

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