Why Did TiVo Co-Founder Jim Barton Step Down?

Dave Zatz —  March 19, 2012 — 10 Comments


Photo via University of Colorado at Boulder

When news of TiVo co-foudner and Chief Technology Officer Jim Barton’s resignation hit, I didn’t think it required more than a tweet given our primary focus here. Or, perhaps, I was just preoccupied with my new iPad. Regardless, we’ve decided to chime in after receiving a few tips and analyst inquiries. From TiVo’s SEC filing:

On March 14, 2012, James Barton resigned from his position as Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President for TiVo Inc. effective March 16, 2012. In connection with Mr. Barton’s resignation, we plan to enter into a consulting agreement with him to continue to provide certain consulting services related to patent matters, litigation, and certain technical matters to the company until March 15, 2015, unless earlier terminated by either Mr. Barton or the company. During the term of his consulting agreement, Mr. Barton shall be paid $25,000 per month. During the consulting agreement, Mr. Barton will continue to vest in his current equity awards.

The bulk of notes coming my way are related to the reasons why Barton might have stepped down. And the tenor of Deadline’s coverage seems to have planted the seed that Barton could have been forced out. So I checked in with a former TiVo exec, off the record, who finds that theory “doubtful.” Yet, as one analyst wondered, why would Barton choose this time to make a move when TiVo seems to finally be firing on all cylinders in relation to business relationships and patent litigation. The bottom line is that folks change jobs all the time, for reasons both big and small. And those outside of Barton’s immediate circle will likely never know his motivation. But, whereas the Verge suggests his departure will be a big loss for TiVo, I see it as an even larger opportunity.

10 responses to Why Did TiVo Co-Founder Jim Barton Step Down?

  1. Given how piss-poor Tivo’s technical development has been, this is a good thing.

  2. I think the speculation of Barton being a hardware guy and the companies current and future direction being focused on the user experience and software made his technical direction as CTO not extremely compatible with what the company is today.

    Can you expand on the opportunity you mention in the last line of the post?

  3. New blood and ideas can be positive. But who knows if they’ll even look outside the org – I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see an internal promotion of Jim Denney, for example. I’ve inquired with TiVo to see if they’ll be undertaking some sort of national hunt for a replacement and will report back if I hear anything of interest.

  4. For some reason, I am under the impression that he’d been gradually playing a lesser and lesser role over the years. Which would make his transition to outside consulting as the next logical step, and make this minor news.

    However, I am not sure why I have that impression, so I might be completely wrong.

  5. Here’s a video of Barton from 2010 –> http://money.cnn.com/video/fortune/2010/07/06/f_vis_tivo_founder_jim_barton.fortune/

    It worth a look. I agree with you that this may be a positive for the company.

  6. I not sure for his reasons, but after following the company and the recent Barons article I believe the company is rip for a takeover.

  7. TiVo is working with MSOs now and not so much on the hardware/retail side. IT probably was painful trying to get TiVo running on Moto hardware (for example). The DirectTV TiVo was just a shell of old tech. The software side was limping along. That would be like being forced out of a Justin Bieber concert. Lots of fans but you had nothing in common with them, and you really did not want to be there anyway.

  8. I found the following in a Wall street journal article:

    “Barton agreed to continue working for TiVo in a consulting capacity to advise the company on patent matters, litigation and other technical matters, according to a Friday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company will pay him $25,000 a month through mid-March 2015″

  9. I, for one, would love to have a $25K per month consulting gig.

  10. Barton’s departure has to do with the fact that TiVo leadership decided to focus on litigation over development several years ago. Stale leadership has no room for a technological innovator like Barton.

    TiVo takeover? Why bother?

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