Studio-backed Internet-to-TV startup ZillionTV has named former Dotcast chief financial officer Jack Lawrence its CEO, replacing Mitch Berman, who will remain with the company as executive chairman.
News of the appointment of Lawrence -- most recently chief operating officer of Corgi International, a manufacturer of toys and movie prop replicas -- was posted on XYHD.tv by former ZillionTV employee Brandon Wirtz.
Before joining Corgi in 2007, Lawrence was CFO of games company Cranium and of Dotcast, the company that supplied underlying datacasting technology for Disney's now-defunct MovieBeam service.
The CEO switch comes shortly after ZillionTV reportedly laid off one-third of its employees. The startup last month announced it would delay the commercial launch of its broadband-delivered VOD service until the second half of 2010 while also embarking on a direct-to-consumer service to supplement its telco-based distribution strategy.
In a statement, the company said: "As of this week, Jack Lawrence is CEO of ZillionTV committed to day-to-day operations and fundraising and Mitch Berman, executive chairman, will continue to focus on building the ZillionTV service through content, CSP [communications service provider] and advertising partnerships."
The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's investors include Walt Disney Co., 20th Century Fox Television, NBC Universal, Sony and Warner Bros.
Before serving as Dotcast's CFO, Lawrence was executive vice president of Chambers Communications, a broadcasting company based in Eugene, Ore., that owns several ABC affiliates. From 1983 to 1994, he worked for AT&T in various financial management roles.
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Berman said the switch was his idea and that he wanted to relinquish the CEO role because the "constant running around and raising money" had been taking a toll on him personally and on the "company's momentum."
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