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Live Picture chief quits

Kate Mitchell resigns from the Web imaging firm just as it slowly began to readjust its business strategy, an executive says.

Live Picture chief executive Kate Mitchell resigned from the Web imaging company during the past week just as the company slowly began to readjust its business strategy, a company executive said today.

"As we were restructuring the business, she saw that as an opportunity to pursue other opportunities," said Kate Hutchinson, senior director of corporate marketing at Live Picture. "The corporate reorganization and who we planned on putting in charge to run each division was a factor in Kate Mitchell leaving."

Mitchell departed on a friendly basis, according to Hutchinson.

Cofounder Mark Kalow has been tapped as interim CEO. The company has several candidates for the chief executive slot lined up but would not disclose their names, saying only that it was a "high priority" to find a replacement.

While Live Picture's FlashPix was created in collaboration with Hewlett-Packard, Kodak, and Microsoft, and allowed users to pan and zoom in on images, the technology failed to catch on widely as an industry standard. Live Picture instead decided to jump on two complementary strategies.

One product line is Zoom, an imaging technology that lets Web users zoom in on high-resolution images quickly and with high-resolution clarity. Microsoft will be including Zoom technology in its Chromeffects interactive media technology--an add-on feature to the Windows 98 operating system. Live Picture and Microsoft also are exploring whether they want to integrate Zoom into Internet Explorer, Microsoft's Web browser, according to Hutchinson.

The company's Live Picture Image Servers, a line of servers that allows anyone using a standard Web browser to view high-resolution images, 3D graphics, and 360-degree panoramas without special software or plug-ins, are now part of the Zoom division.

LivePix, Live Picture's other product, allows consumers to edit and incorporate images into such things as calendars and birthday cards. LivePix templates are also available for home offices and small businesses, and they allow users to manipulate images for letterheads and business cards.

"Although we have been exploring many different initiatives, we decided to focus on [Zoom and LivePix] because they were doing very, very well," said Hutchinson.

Live Picture was founded in 1993 in France by Bruno Delean, Robert Blumberg, and Mark Kalow, and was originally named Fits Imaging. The company then relocated to California and changed its name to Live Picture.

Kate Mitchell joined Live Picture as CEO in June 1997. At the same time, former Apple Computer chief John Sculley became its chairman. Sculley is also one of the company's major investors.

In October, the privately held company secured $10 million in funding from several investors, including the Renaissance Fund, a New York-based investment firm.