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Liberate gets a new executive team

Liberate Technologies, a maker of software for interactive TV, taps several top executives, filling the post of CEO with its second-largest investor.

Liberate Technologies named a new executive management team Monday, with its second-largest investor filling the post of chief executive.

David Lockwood, former chief executive of InterTrust Technologies, is replacing Mitchell Kertzman as CEO of the company, which makes software used in interactive TV set-top boxes. Lockwood will assume his duties after the company files its financial reports. An estimated date for the filings, however, is not yet available, the company said.

"Over the past few weeks, David, without any communication with Liberate, felt the company was an attractive investment and acquired less than a 5 percent stake," Kertzman said. "He recently contacted me and introduced himself as a significant shareholder. He told me about his experience at InterTrust...I told him our management was in transition and, in the course of discussions, he became our second-largest shareholder with a 12 percent stake. It was a completely friendly discussion."

Kertzman plans to join venture capital firm Hummer Winblad Venture Partners once Lockwood assumes his new post. Kertzman will remain a director on Liberate's board. He is also a member of the board at CNET Networks, publisher of News.com.

At InterTrust, Lockwood oversaw the company's restructuring, as well as its digital rights management and intellectual property strategy. In January, a coalition of investors, including Sony Corp. of America and Royal Philips Electronics, acquired InterTrust.

Two other former InterTrust executives, Greg Wood and Patrick Nguyen, also will join Liberate once its financial reports are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wood, who previously served as InterTrust's chief financial officer, will be assuming the same post at Liberate. He will replace Kent Walker, who was named CFO in August. Walker, who will remain general counsel, will be exchanging his role as chief financial officer for vice president of corporate affairs.

Nguyen, a former InterTrust executive vice president, will serve as executive vice president of corporate development. Both Wood and Nguyen were contacted by Lockwood about joining Liberate following his appointment as incoming CEO. All three executives will serve as advisers to the company until officially taking their new posts.

Despite industry talk that Sony was interested in acquiring Liberate, Kertzman said, "David is coming in to create as much success with Liberate as he had with InterTrust. He is not coming in to sell the company and, though you never can say never, we feel he will build the company."

Sources close to Liberate say Sony has not approached the company about any deals in the past.

Liberate has faced a particularly rough patch over the past eight months. Earlier this month, the SEC launched a formal investigation into the company's accounting practices, and in January, Liberate's stock was delisted from the Nasdaq.

Late last year, the company suspended its chief operating officer after it found more questionable transactions than those initially reported in October. At the time, Liberate restated its financial results for fiscal 2002.