bittorrent.gif Bram Cohen, the inventor of the BitTorrent peer-to-peer sharing protocol and founder of the company of the same name, has stepped down as chief executive.

The company has named a new Doug Walker its new CEO, and Cohen will move into the position of chief scientist, once again focusing on the company’s P2P technology. We speculated almost a year ago that Cohen (pictured here) would need to step out of the CEO role as the company grows.

bram.jpgCompanies that help distribute video, called Content Delivery Networks, are increasingly using BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer technologies. P2P reduces infrastructure and bandwidth costs by including consumers in the distribution chain, coordinating a network that swaps pieces of files between user’s computers.

BitTorrent, the company, has doubled in size this year, signing on new partners and striking a deal with Brightcove earlier this month that will see it delivering content for CBS Corp., MTV and the New York Times, among others.

Walker was previously CEO of a company called Alias Systems, a 3D graphics software company that had close ties with Hollywood. His role will begin as a supporting one, securing BitTorrent’s fledgling relationships with media companies and other partners (now 55 in all).

Although the process of becoming legitimate appears to have gone smoothly for BitTorrent, its greater challenge will be staying a step ahead of the competition.

In April, CDN operator Akamai acquired a P2P company called Redswoosh, which puts it in the position to offer a bundled package including both CDN and P2P distribution for media providers.

Walker says that BitTorrent’s technology is still “well ahead” of that offered by other companies, and says he hopes to enter into business relationships with other CDNs as the year goes on.

The company also hired a new chief technology officer, Eric Klinker. He formerly held the same position at Internap, a much larger company.

(Picture courtesy of BusinessWeek.)