Robbee Minicola, whom I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, has served as the CEO of Hybrid TV Services (ANZ) – until now. Hybrid TV is the licensor of TiVo for Australia and New Zealand, the sole TiVo provider for those territories. According to her LinkedIn profile, as of September 2011 she is no longer CEO but rather is now serving on the Board of Directors, as a Director. I was alerted to this last night by a tweet she sent, stating that her next challenge would be re-adjusting to life in the states after 27 years of living abroad. I figured that meant a career change, so I checked her LinkedIn profile and caught the change.
Now, Hybrid TV Services has had a bit of a rough time. After their primary backer, Seven Network, declined to invest more in the company, and sales didn’t meet initial expectations (despite being the top selling DVR platform in ANZ), Hybrid was forced to lay off a large portion of their staff. But they remain the best selling DVR platform in ANZ and seem to be making slow but steady progress in building their customer base. I don’t think a change in CEOs is any kind of bad omen, especially as Minicola isn’t jumping ship, she’s still involved via the BoD.
We don’t know what triggered the move, but seeing as she’s not just leaving the CEO position but is leaving a country she’s lived in for nearly three decades to return to the US, I suspect there are reasons outside of anything to do with Hybrid TV Services and TiVo. She’s originally from the US, it could be personal reasons such as a family issue that led her to decide to return to the US, and that move necessitated stepping down. Who knows? The point is that it could be any one of a number of reasons and we shouldn’t read too much into it.
However, techAU seems to feel it is a terrible sign, as they covered the change with an article entitled“Head of TiVo Australia leaves for the US, future looks grim“. It includes statements such as“As an owner and fan of TiVo, its incredibly frustrating that TiVo is being left to die like this. There has now been multiple models and updates released internationally that have not made it to Australia.”, which I think is just a tad melodramatic. Left to die? Really?
Yes, TiVo in ANZ is based on the TiVo HD Series3 platform, as is the software, but so what? The hardware is unique to ANZ, designed to support only DVB-T. The services it supports are unique to ANZ as well, such as CASPA. The TiVo Premiere Series4 platform wouldn’t offer all that much of an advantage in that unique service environment. Broadband costs are high so there aren’t many OTT options, and unless you’re using a pay TV service you’re basically limited to OTA DVB-T aka Freeview, as TiVo uses. It would be a major investment to design a new ANZ box based on the Series4 platform and to put it into production and I’m not sure Hybrid could justify the expense when the return is questionable and funds are already tight. The current platform is already a leader in the local market, and that’s really what is important. You design a product based on what is appropriate for the target market, not based on what is done for other, very different markets.
Rumors of Hybrid’s imminent demise have been running since last year, so I find it hard to put too much weight on them without new evidence. Robbee Minicola is no longer the CEO, yes that’s a major change, but it isn’t a sign of the end times. Stay calm. I wish Robbee the best in whatever she has planned next, and I wish the best for Hybrid TiVo Services and the TiVo customers in ANZ. I hope the service continues to grow and becomes successful and sustainable.
EDIT: As some of you know, I cross-post TiVo-related entries from this blog to the TiVoLovers LiveJournal Community, including this one. It seems the cross post tripped one of Robbee’s alerts and she (or someone claiming to be her at any rate) posted the following comment:
Thanks so much for your kind words and correctly assuming all is good with Hybrid and I simply wanted to head back to the US. Yes the reasons are mostly family, but I am looking forward to being at the pointy end of things in Silicon Valley, LA and NYC.
It was an honor to be asked to go on the Board – and it is a great feeling to remain linked to the business and the customers.
I actually stuffed up on the tweet – meant to send it only to my linkedin connections but the darn twitter box was ticked and it went out to everyone!