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Think Ahead: Rob Glaser

Rob Glaser

Chairman and CEO
RealNetworks Inc.

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Can you name one idea that was true two PC Forums ago but is no longer valid?

I really thought that everyone would realize the dotcom bubble was temporary. I’m surprised by the number of smart people who got caught up in the hype or confused the vagaries of the financial markets with the challenges of building a viable business. RealNetworks certainly made little bubble mistakes over the past few years, but it’s amazing how many people made big bubble mistakes — and how surprised they were at the outcome.

What business opportunity, partnership, or investment are you really excited about today?

I’m most excited about a deal that we just closed to broadcast every Major League Baseball game over the Net. It’s the most comprehensive sports-rights deal on the Net. Beyond basic broadcast on RealAudio, we’re adding features like condensed highlights, fantasy-league layers, and synchronized audio with interactive data.

What will we be seeing and talking about at next year’s PC Forum?

One year from now, we’ll have entered the post-Napster period, when it will be possible for people to pay a reasonable price for broad access to digital music. If Napster was a 10 in terms of convenience and price last month, the next solution will be an 8, and it will slowly move up back to a 10 — but it should be good enough to capitalize on next year.

If this year’s theme is the bursting bubble and the sober economic environment, then next year, we’re going to wonder why we were all so distracted by the bubble and why we weren’t focusing on the vast opportunities before us.

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