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CEO of iPod chipmaker quits

John Mallard resigns from PortalPlayer, the start-up that provides the processor at the heart of Apple's iPod digital music player.

The chief executive of PortalPlayer, the start-up whose chip powers Apple Computer's iPod digital music player, has resigned.

John Mallard, who was chief technology officer at National Semiconductor before helping launch PortalPlayer in May 1999, stepped down last week. No reason was given for the move, which was made by "mutual agreement" with the board, according to Michael Maia, the company's vice president of marketing.

"The board has requested, and (Mallard) has agreed, to stay on in a consultative role," Maia said. The company's chairman, former National Semi executive Richard Sanquini, has been named acting CEO.

PortalPlayer's chief operating officer, R.S. Turnbull, is also switching to a consultant role at the company, Maia confirmed. He declined to comment on the reasons for the switch.

A search for a new CEO is under way, with both internal and external candidates being considered, Maia said.

PortalPlayer provides technology for hard drive-based portable music players as well as for digital home stereo components, such as CD recorders. In addition to its role in the iPod, which has never been formally announced, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company's technology is used in several products by less well-known companies in the United States, China, Japan and Germany.

Maia said other big-name customers are due to be announced in January.

"There's definitely more coming there next month," he said.

In June, PortalPlayer landed $42 million in fourth-round funding. Its investors include J.P. Morgan Partners, Investcorp International, Shamrock Capital Advisors, CIBC World Markets, Linear Technology and LSI Logic.