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Streamedia Fires Chairman

New York-based Streamedia (www.streamedia.net) announced Monday that the company's board of directors terminated Gayle Essary as director and vice president.

According to a terse press release, the termination was effective as of March 9, 2001, and "ended Mr. Essary's employment and official involvement with Streamedia Communications, Inc."

John Smith, a spokesperson at Streamedia, alluded that the company was more on track now. "You have to have real business, as opposed to a public relations business," he said, apparently referring to the quantity of announcements the company makes. "It doesn't take PR," he said, "it takes focus, dedication and a clearly focused mission."

Smith admitted that the action was "sudden" but wouldn't elaborate on details. "It's regrettable and sad that this happened," he said.

Despite the dismissal, Smith said that he hopes Essary still might be involved with Streamedia. He said that former CEO and president James Rupp still works on company projects.


Streamedia's Run of Acquisitions

In the last few months, Streamedia has been acquisitive announcing mergers or acquisitions with three companies: eSynch (a streaming services company), eLeaders (an Internet connectivity company), and Nomad (a European webcaster).

Smith said Streamedia's merger with eSynch was still on track, but refused to give any more details. "I can't discuss specifics on eSynch," he said. "[The deal is a] typical merger form."

Other than that, there's little information about the merger. When it was announced in January, there were no financial details released. Even the financial industry is at a loss. Carl Ports, a senior analyst at research firm EquityNet (which follows eSynch), said that he doesn't know the terms of the deal and wouldn't comment on whether it will close. "Your guess is as good as ours," said Ports.

The deal with Nomad seems to be dead, however. Smith said that it never proceeded to a formal agreement and was on hold "at [Nomad's] behest." "Dead is not the right word," he said.

Smith did say that Streamedia's acquisition of eLeaders was consummated.


What eSynch Brings. . .

eSynch, based in Tustin, CA, is primarily a software company that has developed an application that can play QuickTime, RealNetworks or Windows Media files. The software, called ChoiceCaster, essentially calls player software already installed on an end-user's computer, and launches it inside of its own window.

eSynch also provides services though its ChoiceCinema subsidiary, offering encoding, compression, digitization, editing and consulting. It also has data centers on the East and West coasts.

The company gained notice last year, when it was chosen as the default media player for the 2000 Olympics. A partnership between NBC, the Olympics and Axient allowed viewers in the U.S. to watch tape-delay highlights of various events through a customized eSynch player.

"End users don't care about codecs or speed. Users just want to click and play," said Roland Wood, VP of eSynch. "They want [streaming] like TV and if streaming is going to make it, we have to become more like broadcast [TV].

For the eSynch player to function properly, however, the video needs to be provided as a link, rather than embedded on a Web page. "Embedded is not the way to go," said Wood. He says that streamers lose the power of video if it's embedded, since they can create a branded player.

eSynch and Streamedia have a history of working together. Last year eSynch provided the player for Streamedia's BijouCafe.com content site. And earlier this year, eSynch "assisted" Streamedia with financing. Shortly thereafter, the merger was announced.

Although Wood wouldn't comment on the merger, eSynch CEO Tom Hemingway said in a statement that the deal is "going through as scheduled and as planned."


Streamedia's "Visionary Expansion"

Streamedia has been going through some rough times. Not only has its stock been trading below the dollar mark, it has had some executive shuffling. The company's founder, CEO and president, James Rupp, resigned last October. The CFO and some board members also resigned around the same time. Board member Henry Siegel replaced Rupp as president and CEO.

Smith said that there was a problem in doing too many things at once, and not having the infrastructure, knowledge and capital to build a business. He said that Streamedia must now focus on building its business base, so it can then be ready for its "visionary expansion". "You have to keep focused on making money," he said.

"We're alive and trying to stay that way," said Smith.

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