Wangberg Opts to Leave Techtv

Techtv chairman and CEO Larry Wangberg is stepping away from his keyboard.

Wangberg — who has been with the Vulcan Ventures Inc.-owned cable network since its inception in 1997 and its launch as ZDTV the following year — said last Thursday he would spend the next few months searching for a successor.

After that, Wangberg will stay connected to Vulcan and its chairman, Microsoft Corp. co-founder and Charter Communications Inc. chairman Paul Allen. He'll remain on Techtv's board of directors and take a spot on Charter's board as well.

"It is my call," Wangberg said a few hours after announcing his decision.

With Techtv crossing the 30-million TV homes mark last month — and ad-sales and new cable-system affiliate contracts moving along at a steady clip — Wangberg said that from a business standpoint, the time to step down was right.

"From a personal standpoint, there's a lot of things I want to do with my family and friends," he said. "I need some more flexibility in my life to do that."

Wangberg labeled his relationship with Allen a solid one, and called his Techtv stint "one of the real highlights of my career." Allen asked him to stay on the network's board, assume a Charter board seat and "work on other Vulcan things that may come up in the coming months," he said.

In a statement, Allen praised Wangberg for helping Techtv achieve its goal of becoming the place "to educate people worldwide about the potential uses of new technologies, PC-related hardware and software, and other consumer electronics."

ZDTV became Techtv in 2000, then expanded its original programming, as headlined by Tech Live, the multihour daypart devoted to technology news, analysis and demonstrations. Tech Live's hours and staff were trimmed two months ago, during the only cost cuts in the network's history. About 130 employees were dismissed.

Still, Tech Live has drawn a fan base, as have Call for Help, The Screen Savers
and other series.

Nielsen Media Research will start rating the channel by the end of June, Wangberg said.