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RealNetworks LLC
FormerlyProgressive Networks (1994-1997) RealNetworks, Inc. (1997-2023)
Company typePrivate
Nasdaq: RNWK
Founded1994; 30 years ago (1994)
FoundersRob Glaser
Phil Barrett
Andy Sharpless
Stephen Buerkle
HeadquartersHome Plate Center, ,
[United States
Key people
Rob Glaser (chairman and CEO)[1]
RevenueDecrease US$156.2 Million (2014)[2]
Decrease US$7.18 Million (2014)[2]
Number of employees
1,060 (2012)[3]

RealNetworks LLC is an American technology company and provider of Internet streaming media delivery software and services based in Seattle, Washington. The company also provides subscription-based online entertainment services and mobile entertainment and messaging services.


RealNetworks (then known as Progressive Networks) was founded in 1994 by Rob Glaser, an ex-Microsoft executive, and a management team including Phil Barrett, Andy Sharpless, and Stephen Buerkle. The original goal of the company was to provide a distribution channel for politically progressive content. It evolved into a technology venture to leverage the Internet as an alternative distribution medium for audio broadcasts. Progressive Networks became RealNetworks in September 1997, in advance of the company's initial public offering (IPO) in October 1997 when shares of the company started trading on Nasdaq as "RNWK".[4]

RealNetworks were pioneers in the streaming media markets and broadcast one of the earlier audio events over the Internet, a baseball game between the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners on September 5, 1995. They announced streaming video technology in 1997. According to some accounts, by 2000 more than 85% of streaming content on the Internet was in the Real format.[5]

Despite this success, problems arose because RealNetworks's primary business model depended upon the sale of streaming media server software, and Microsoft and Apple were giving those products away. As servers from Microsoft and Apple became more capable, Real's server sales inevitably eroded.[6]

In RealNetworks, Inc. v. Streambox, Inc. in January 2000, RealNetworks filed an injunction against Streambox, Inc. regarding that company's product designed to convert Real Audio (.rm) formatted files to other formats.[7] On December 4, 2001, the company was to launch the first coordinated effort to sell and deliver music from major record labels over the Internet, part of a broader initiative by the company to develop subscription Internet services aimed at Web users with fast Internet connections.[8] In 2002, a strategic alliance was formed between RealNetworks and Sony Corporation to expand collaboration.[9] In October 2005, Microsoft agreed to pay RealNetworks $460 million to settle an antitrust lawsuit.[10]

In August 2003, RealNetworks acquired's Rhapsody music service, and renamed it RealRhapsody. It offered streaming music downloads for a monthly fee. In January 2004, RealNetworks announced the RealPlayer Music Store, featuring digital rights management (DRM) restricted music in the AAC file format. After some initial tries to push their own DRM scheme (named Helix DRM) onto all device manufacturers with the Creative Zen Xtra and the Sansa e200r as the only existing compliant devices, they sparked controversy by introducing a technology called Harmony that allowed their music to play on iPods as well as Microsoft Windows Media Audio DRM-equipped devices using a "wrapper" that would convert Helix DRM into the two other target DRM schemes.[11]

Real Networks acquired Dutch game company Zylom for $21 million in February 2006.[12] It became part of GameHouse.

On April 6, 2010, Rhapsody was spun off from RealNetworks. In July 2013, RealNetworks acquired Slingo for $15.6 million.[13] The company introduced a mobile phone app called Listen in April 2014 that plays custom ringtones to those calling the user's phone.[14]

On December 21, 2022, RealNetworks was taken private by founder and CEO Rob Glaser.[15][16][17]

Corporate governance[edit]

RealNetworks has its headquarters in Seattle, Washington, in the Home Plate Center building in SoDo across from T-Mobile Park, sharing the building with local television station KING-TV and Logic 20/20 Consulting.[18][19]

Notable RealNetworks employees have included Alex Alben; the first Chief Privacy Officer of Washington State; Tony Fadell, the inventor of the iPod; musician Daniel House; and Philip Rosedale, the founder of Linden Lab.

The domain attracted at least 67 million visitors annually by 2008, according to a study.[20]

Products and services[edit]


SAFR from RealNetworks

Launched by RealNetworks on July 17, 2018, SAFR – Secure Accurate Facial Recognition, is a machine learning facial recognition platform.[21] The SAFR platform was updated in 2020 with COVID-19 response features, including the ability to detect whether a person is wearing a mask and identify people wearing masks with 98.85 percent accuracy.[22] On April 27, 2021, SAFR received a grant from the US Air Force to develop its AI-powered analytics for rescue missions, perimeter protection and domestic search operations.[23]


In 2017, RealNetworks launched Kontxt, a product that offers management of text messaging in mobile networks. It identifies the content of the message and sorts it into categories to determine which ones are more important, and prioritize message delivery.[24] In March 2021, RealNetworks unveiled KONTXT for Voice to identify and stop scam robocalls.[25]

RealTimes (formerly RealPlayer Cloud)[edit]

RealNetworks on September 24, 2013, launched RealPlayer Cloud, a service that adds the ability to share videos recorded on smartphones and tablets. RealPlayer Cloud ties into the existing RealPlayer; however, it also has a Web app and apps for Android, iOS and Roku. The service has 2GB of free cloud storage and more storage for a monthly fee.[26] It was renamed to RealTimes on May 19, 2015, with a new focus on creating and sharing "Stories"—video collages of users' personal photos and videos, set to background music.[27]


RealNetworks entered the computer game market in October 2001 with RealArcade, a PC game distribution application that allows users to play casual video games for free for 60 minutes, then decide if they want to purchase them.[28][29] Many of the games were developed by GameHouse, which RealNetworks acquired for $35.6 million in 2004.[30] In 2010, RealNetworks re-branded its games division under the name Gamehouse.[31] It began focusing on social games, such as Facebook applets,[32] and in 2013 acquired casual casino games company, Slingo, for $15.6 million.[33]


On September 30, 2008, RealNetworks launched a new product called RealDVD. The software allows any user to save a copy of a DVD movie they own. The company was later found to have violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and RealNetworks' contract with the DVD Copy Control Association, as the software also allowed anyone to save a movie they do not legally own. (See RealNetworks, Inc. v. DVD Copy Control Ass'n, Inc.).[34] The product's distribution was barred by a court injunction.[35][36]

Real Alternative[edit]

Real Alternative is a discontinued software bundle that allows users to play RealMedia files without installing RealPlayer.[37] The last version, 2.02, was released on February 19, 2010. It included Media Player Classic.[38][39]

Beginning in 2010, RealNetworks sued Hilbrand Edskes, a 26-year-old Dutch webmaster, for having inserted hyperlinks to Real Alternative on his site RealNetworks alleges that Real Alternative is a reverse engineered package.[40]

In November 2011, RealNetworks' case against Edskes was dismissed and RealNetworks was ordered to pay him €48,000 in damages.[41][42] Details of the case and judgement have been published.[43] RealNetworks appealed the case in 2013, this time alleging that Edskes was after all involved in uploading Real Alternatives. Edskes countered that while his automated script did upload Real Alternatives, the web server was deliberately configured to keep the file unavailable to public. He audited the uploads and deleted Real Alternatives before he was raided in February 17, 2010. Therefore, he was never committed unauthorized distribution.[44][45]


Helix is a suite of streaming media software and services intended for digital TV set-top boxes, mobile devices, as well as QuickTime, Flash and other programs.[46][47][48] It includes the Helix open-source code and the Helix Universal Server, which hosts, distributes and manages digital rights for multimedia content.[48] Helix competes with the Windows Media 9 Series from Microsoft, but has a greater emphasis on open-source.[47][48] Helix was announced in July 2002.[47] Support for mobile devices was added in November 2005.[49] It was discontinued in October 2014.[50]

Subscription services[edit]

In 2000, one of the initial products, the download manager RealDownload, was already used for pushing small software, such as games, to subscribers' computers. On top of the subscription for RealDownload and using its RealVideo streaming technology, a service called GoldPass, including unlimited access for video snippets from ABC and movie previews, was offered to registered users for a monthly $10 fee.[51] More content was added through deals with CBS for the reality show Big Brother and NBA basketball.[52]

Other products and technologies[edit]

  • RealAudio, a compressed audio format
  • RealDownloader, a download manager
  • RealPlayer, a media player
  • RealVideo, a compressed video format
  • Rinse, a digital music library cleanup tool
  • Unifi, a personal cloud media service
  • Mobile entertainment and messaging services for mobile carriers

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kerr, Dave (July 30, 2014). "RealNetworks names Rob Glaser its permanent CEO". CNET. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "RealNetworks, Inc. 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K" (PDF). RealNetworks. p. 18. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  3. ^ "Company Profile for RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK)". Retrieved September 24, 2011.
  4. ^ Kawamoto, Dawn (October 15, 1997). "RealNetworks to launch IPO". CNET. Retrieved October 6, 2022.
  5. ^ "RealNetworks Inc". Funding Universe. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  6. ^ "The History & Future of Real Networks". Internet Video Magazine. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  7. ^ (January 18, 2000) Real Networks, Inc. v. Streambox, Inc. Case Summary, Retrieved on August 2, 2009
  8. ^ "Realnetworks is set to launch music service".
  9. ^ "Sony, RealNetworks Form Tech Alliance". Los Angeles Times. May 1, 2002. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  10. ^ Montalbano, Elizabeth. "Microsoft, RealNetworks Settle for $761 Million"[permanent dead link], PC World, October 11, 2005. Retrieved on June 29, 2012.
  11. ^ Bennett, Amy (August 2, 2004). "Apple, RealNetworks clash fuels industry debate". Computerworld. Retrieved November 3, 2021.
  12. ^ "RealNetworks Buys European Game Company Zylom". Forbes. February 7, 2006. Retrieved January 15, 2024.
  13. ^ "RealNetworks Acquires Slingo". RTTNews. July 31, 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  14. ^ Moscaritolo, Angela (April 10, 2014). "Ringback Tones Return on RealNetworks 'Listen' App". PC Magazine. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  15. ^ "RealNetworks LLC Announces Closing of Acquisition of RealNetworks, Inc. by CEO Rob Glaser". (Press release). Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  16. ^ "Register". Retrieved August 19, 2023.
  17. ^ "Register". Retrieved August 19, 2023.
  18. ^ John Cook (May 6, 2013). "RealNetworks returns to roots, plans move to smaller offices near Safeco Field". GeekWire.
  19. ^ Remy Mooney (June 5, 2013). "RealNetworks Leases 85,000 SF in the Home Plate Center in Seattle". Archived from the original on March 5, 2017. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  20. ^ " attracts 67 million visitors annually". Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2008.
  21. ^ "RealNetworks Launches SAFR, a Best-In-Class Facial Recognition Platform". July 17, 2018. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  22. ^ "SAFR Upgrades Biometric Platform's Mask Detection Capabilities". FindBiometrics. October 29, 2020. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  23. ^ "SAFR wins USAF SBIR grant to extend AI-powered analytics to UGV". April 27, 2021. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  24. ^ "RealNetworks' new product Kontxt aims to manage trillions of texts on mobile networks". GeekWire. November 28, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  25. ^ "RealNetworks unveils KONTXT for VOICE to Identify and Stop Scam Robocalls once and for all". AiThority. March 25, 2021. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  26. ^ "With its new cloud player, RealNetworks is trying the next big turnaround — Tech News and Analysis". September 24, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  27. ^ "RealTimes Features".
  28. ^ Richman, Dan (January 26, 2004). "RealNetworks to buy game developer GameHouse". Seattle Post. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  29. ^ Haley, Colin (October 11, 2001). "RealNetworks Launches Streaming Video Game Service". InternetNews. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  30. ^ Evers, Joris (January 26, 2004). "RealNetworks Acquires GameHouse". PCWorld. IDG News Service. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  31. ^ Pham, Alex (May 4, 2010). "RealNetworks renovates its GameHouse business to be more social". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  32. ^ Takahashi, Dean (September 22, 2011). "Real Networks' GameHouse makes its run at social gaming". VentureBeat. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  33. ^ Takahashi, Dean (July 31, 2013). "RealNetworks buys Slingo for $15.6M as it doubles down on social casino games".
  34. ^ The New York Times (October 1, 2008) Studios sue to bar a DVD copying program, Retrieved on August 2, 2009
  35. ^ Hachman, Mark (August 11, 2009). "RealNetworks Loses DVD Copying Decision". PC Magazine. Retrieved August 12, 2009.
  36. ^ Stone, Brad (August 11, 2009). "RealNetworks Barred From Selling DVD Copy Maker". Bits. The New York Times. Retrieved August 12, 2009.
  37. ^ "Real Alternative 2.02". FileHippo. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  38. ^ "Real Alternative 2.02 - Technical details". FileHippo. February 20, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  39. ^ "Real Alternative 2.0.2". February 19, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  40. ^ De Winter, Brenno (August 25, 2011). "RealNetworks crushes Dutch webmaster for hyperlink". PC Advisor. IDG. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  41. ^ de Winter, Brenno (November 7, 2011). "RealNetworks gaat door met rechtszaak om hyperlink". WebWerld (Dutch language). Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  42. ^ Collin, Branko (November 6, 2011). "Internet thugs Realnetworks lose case against Hilbrand Edskes". 24Oranges. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  43. ^ "LJN: BU3223, Rechtbank's-Gravenhage, 363011 / HA ZA 10-1233". de Rechtspraak (Dutch language). November 4, 2011. Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
  44. ^ "Sitebouwer uploadde toch Real Networks-software". December 7, 2013. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  45. ^ "Conclusies en tussenvonnis RealNetworks tegen Edskes". Archived from the original on February 6, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  46. ^ Ozer, Jan (November 2012). "A closer look at streaming servers". Sound & Video Contractor.
  47. ^ a b c Applebaum, Simon (July 28, 2002). "RealNetworks Is Streaming Against the Microsoft Tide". Multichannel News. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  48. ^ a b c Kerschbaumer, Ken (July 28, 2002). "RealNetworks launches Helix". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  49. ^ "RealNetworks Upgrades Helix To Support Wireless Networks". InformationWeek. November 16, 2005. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  50. ^ Dreier, Troy (October 31, 2014). "RealNetworks Discontinues Helix Media Delivery Suite of Products". Streaming Media. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  51. ^ Kieskowski, Ellie (August 15, 2000). "RealNetworks Launches Subscription Service". Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  52. ^ (July 6, 2007). "RealNetworks, CBS deliver access to Big Brother 8 | Radio & Television Business Report". Retrieved November 3, 2021.

External links[edit]