OnLive’s Steve Perlman bids farewell, says other projects will ‘blow your mind’

Steve Perlman, ousted founder of OnLive

Steve Perlman has been uncharacteristically quiet during the death and rebirth of OnLive, the cloud gaming service that he began working on more than a decade ago. But he broke his silence today in a blog post explaining why, after first saying he would stay, he resigned as chief executive of the reborn OnLive.

“It’s been a very long journey, starting over a decade ago, and for most of that time it’s been round-the-clock work, with almost no break at all,” Perlman said. “From the first presentations of OnLive 10 years ago to recent product releases, we’ve overcome immense challenges, not just in terms of technical scope and complexity but in getting past enormous skepticism and bringing to market an extremely disruptive product.”

Perlman’s OnLive toiled for years to create a service where users could play high-end 3D games on low-end computer hardware. OnLive launched two years ago, but it didn’t get enough subscribers to pay for its costs. It filed for a bankruptcy alternative on Aug. 17.

In his message (full text below), Perlman said that he’s going back to other projects that are under research at his Rearden R&D company. Among them is Dido, which promises to deliver high-speed broadband wireless networking that gets past traditional bottlenecks in wireless computing.

He didn’t mention Dido specifically but he said, “You can always find me at rearden.com. I might even have time at some point to update the website with our latest stuff. What the team has working now will utterly blow your mind.”

Perlman did not specifically address an issue that has come up as a discussion point among employees. Some of them have said they would not return to the reborn OnLive (which exists because the old OnLive was able to sell its assets to a new company funded by investor Lauder Partners) unless Perlman was no longer in charge. It is not clear whether that was a factor in why Perlman is moving on.

Perlman said that Gary Lauder, now the chairman of OnLive, has set up a “well-funded new company” and that “the end of last week was the first time in a very long time where I could actually consider the possibility of moving on without having to worry about the company.” He said that Lauder wanted him to stay, but “it was a good time to move on.”

Here’s the text of the farewell message:

No doubt you have all heard the news that I have left OnLive. Since Gary and I told you less than a week ago I was staying, I want to explain why I decided it was time to move on.

It’s been a very long journey, starting over a decade ago, and for most of that time it’s been round-the-clock work, with almost no break at all. From the first presentations of OnLive 10 years ago, to recent product releases, we’ve overcome immense challenges, not just in terms of technical scope and complexity, but in getting past enormous skepticism, and bringing to market an extremely disruptive product.

While the last week’s reset was a difficult transition, Gary set up a well-funded new company in a go-forward position with all employees having an opportunity to participate, we had critical matters like healthcare in place—with financial support fellow employees arranged themselves—and we even partnered with other companies to set up job mixers and recruiters to help find new jobs. By the end of a very tough week, we had actually reached a point of stability.

For me, the end of last week was the first time in a very long time where I could actually consider the possibility of moving on without having to worry about the company. As we said in our last post, Gary did want me to stay, but OnLive is by far the longest project I’ve ever worked on, I have other projects long in need of my focus and attention, and Gary needed to lock down the structure for the new company. In the balance, it was a good time to move on, and Gary understood.

I’d like to ask everyone to please give the OnLive team a chance to regroup and get rolling again. It’s the same people who created the amazing stuff you’ve been enjoying over the years, and [acting CEO] Charlie [Jablonski] is the guy who’s kept the service running 24/7 since launch. No small feat.

For me, it’s hard to leave my creation behind, but there is also a huge sense of relief that I can finally step off the treadmill and know that OnLive is in good hands. Thank you all for helping OnLive since Beta days to become a reality, and thank you for all of the feedback and ideas that has helped OnLive pioneer this entirely new field of computing and entertainment.

You can always find me at rearden.com. I might even have time at some point to update the website with our latest stuff. What the team has working now will utterly blow your mind.