Ad sales chief leaves RealNetworks for Flycast

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Jeff Lehman, key architect of RealNetworks' rich media online advertising effort, is leaving the company to join Flycast Communications as VP-media sales, Advertising Age has learned. He'll be succeeded by Shelley Morrison, a former senior sales exec for Disney's Starwave Corp.

Mr. Lehman joined RealNetworks in 1997 and became a leading proponent of online advertising that uses streaming audio and video--RealNetworks' bread and butter technology. But advertising never contributed much to RealNetworks' bottom line. The company last week reported just $1 million in ad revenue in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared to $14.3 million in software license fees. For the year, ad revenue rose about 40%, to $3.15 million.

His decision to join Flycast was based on the fact that the company's business model "is 100% advertising focused," Mr. Lehman said.

Mr. Lehman's last day with RealNetworks was Jan. 29; he'll join Flycast in March. Ms. Morrison's first day on the job was Feb. 1; she chose to remain in the Seattle area, where RealNetworks and Starwave are based, rather than move to California to join the revamped sales force handling Disney's new Go Network. Ms. Morrison was one of Starwave's first employees, and remained with the company through its many transitions, culminating with the sale to Disney.

Mr. Lehman insists his departure doesn't mean the death of RealNetworks' rich media initiative. In fact, he said one of the reasons he joined Flycast is that its ad network can handle rich media advertising. He remains a RealNetworks officer.

Copyright February 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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