Slingbox team to exit EchoStar

Handful of execs leaving after big CES showing

Just days after a big CES outing, EchoStar chairman and CEO Charles Ergen is losing a whole executive suite of tech vision.

The founders of Sling Media and three other top executives told their staff Monday that they are leaving the digital media firm that became famous with its Slingbox, which allows users to "place shift" TV content.

Ergen's EchoStar bought Sling Media for $380 million in cash in September 2007 and kept founding brothers Blake and Jason Krikorian on board as CEO and senior vp business development, respectively.

Also leaving is former MTV Networks chief digital officer Jason Hirschhorn, who has been in charge of the Sling Media Entertainment unit. He will help with the transition until the end of February. Ben White, chief creative officer at the unit, will leave at the start of next month, as will vp sales Greg Wilkes.

The PaidContent blog first reported the departures.

A source familiar with the situation said that the top executives had toyed with the idea of departing for a while and told Ergen about their plan, once finalized, even before CES, which they wanted to see through.

"All of the people involved are entrepreneurs," the source said. "And culturally this was not exactly the kind of place they wanted to be long term. I think Charlie understood that, too."

COO John Gilmore looks likely to be put in charge of Sling for now.

An EchoStar spokesman declined comment on the Sling departures.

At CES last week, Dish turned heads with the launch of a Sling-enabled HD DVR, the first of its kind to incorporate place-shifting technology.