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Iridium snags a Picasso

The mobile satellite-based phone company announces that Gino Picasso will replace Dan Colussy as president and chief executive.

Iridium Satellite on Tuesday named a new president and chief executive.

The mobile satellite-based phone company announced that Gino Picasso, a former General Electric and Ace*Comm executive, will replace Dan Colussy who will continue to serve as chairman. Picasso will take the top spot immediately, Iridium said.

Iridium Satellite is the second iteration for the failed satellite phone company by the same name. Launched in 1998, the first Iridium, backed by Motorola and others, fell into bankruptcy after signing up fewer customers than had been expected. The high cost of the service, coupled with widely available low-cost cellular services, made Iridium phones a tough sell for consumers.

Iridium was not alone in its woes. Several of the satellite phone and Internet operators--facing poor sales--have filed for bankruptcy, been acquired or postponed their launch.

Colussy and a group of private investors acquired Iridium's assets from a bankruptcy court sale in December and re-launched the service in March.

The new Iridium Satellite contracts with Boeing to operate the satellites. The new company has a far less ambitious strategy of selling its service to global industrial companies, such as oil and mining, military and maritime concerns, which need reliable global service.

Previously Picasso served as president and chief operating officer at Ace*Comm, a communications billing and support software company. Picasso also worked for GE Capital's Spacenet Service.