Sling Team Departing EchoStar
On the heels of announcing that EchoStar-owned Sling Media would bring a HD version of its place-shifting product to EchoStar subscribers this spring, PaidContent.org broke the news today that company co-founders/geniuses Blake and Jason Krikorian and some of their top lieutenants are departing.
The Krikorian brothers sold their company to EchoStar and Charlie Ergen for a cool $380 million last year, so they’re probably not shedding any tears over their impending departure.
Slingbox fans might consider crying, however. Sling Media is largely successful because the product works well and simply. Download Sling software to your mobile phone or your laptop, and with minimal tweaking and no calls to customer service, you will actually be able to watch your cable or satellite TV from wherever you are as long as you have an Internet connection.
That’s not a claim most services can make. I subscribe to TiVo and I use it and I love it, but not all of its software works so well. TiVo to Go, for example, has been a little iffy thus far. I adore my Creative Zen media player, but its companion software crashes about as often as it works. The same goes for Rhapsody, which I use to sample and download music.
But Sling just works, and that’s rare.
Now that the Krikorians as well as Jason Hirschhorn, president of Sling Media Entertainment, and Ben White, chief creative officer at that group are all departing, I’m skeptical that Sling will be able to maintain the high technical quality of its product. The engineers at EchoStar are no dummies, but Sling’s not their baby. Moreover, it’s not their core business, so they won’t be motivated to innovate Sling’s products or even maintain them.
The silver lining in this news, I suppose, is that the Krikorians and their team will leave EchoStar and start a new company that comes up with something equally cool as Sling.