BitTorrent President Steps Down

Ashwin Navin leaves to “focus on a new venture.”

Ashwin Navin, co-founder of BitTorrent Inc, the formal business he helped establish centered around the file-sharing software erstwhile used for mainly illegal purposes, is stepping down as president and setting up a new venture with YouTube co-founder Steven Chen.

Navin announced his departure in an email to staff. His exit comes after several attempts to refocus the company, first as an entertainment network and then as a means for companies to distribute their products via BitTorrent DNA.

In an attempt to develop a business around the BitTorrent protocol it was relaunched as a legitimate file-sharing service and formed a partnership with the MPAA.

Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures and Starz were among the content owners that came on board but some of these deals have lapsed of late as they develop new platforms of their own.

Aside from Chen, who will stay on with YouTube, Navin’s new venture will also involve MySpace chief technology officer Aber Whitcomb and others.

From Navin’s blog:

What attracted me to BitTorrent in the first place (and what is still inspiring to this day) is its ability to provide people true digital freedom. BitTorrent exemplifies market principles, tends toward decentralization, and operates on principles of meritocracy — all great virtues in my book! There have been few technologies in the history of mankind which have had such a massive impact on so many people, giving them the ability to communicate and benefit from each other. For its direct and indirect benefits, I believe BitTorrent sits among the handful of important technology breakthroughs such as the printing press, broadcasting, and the Internet itself. Why? Today’s publishing technology (like blogs, bittorrent, and video sharing sites for example) quite directly forge a level playing field for creativity. And indirectly, these tools force large media companies to realize that there is no longer scarcity or a stranglehold on distribution that locks people out of self-expression. Anyone can speak to the world in any format, without filters. Freedom of Speech has never been so available to the masses. How these large corporations respond to this fundamental realization will benefit many many millions of people–creators and consumers alike.

Navin makes a good point about how BitTorrent has decentralized the power of distribution. By allowing people to share content with others quickly, effortlessly, and without limitation BitTorrent truly has helped to provide the masses with “true digital freedom.”

With his departure it’ll be curious to see what direction the next president takes BitTorrent Inc.. With most entertainment companies now realizing that the Internet is where people are increasingly turning to for media consumption they’ll need to have a strategy in place to take advantage of that and reach this growing online audience. People want to watch movies and TV shows on their own terms at a time and place of their choosing. BitTorrent allows them to do that.

[email protected]