Ina Fried

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Digital Pen Maker Livescribe Lands New Funding, Taps Ex-HP Exec as New CEO

Digital pen maker Livescribe has quietly replaced its longtime chief executive with former HP executive Gilles Bouchard.

Bouchard has been on the job since last month, but Livescribe is just now announcing that he has taken the helm from Jim Marggraff. Marggraff will remain on the company’s board and will be a part-time adviser, Bouchard said.

Among his goals, Bouchard said, are strengthening the company’s partnerships and building wireless connectivity into future pens. All of its current products have to be docked with a computer to share data.

“We have to be a step function from where we are in terms of cross-device support,” Bouchard told AllThingsD. In addition, he said that the product is still too hard to explain to consumers.

By writing on special paper, Livescribe’s “smartpens” are able to capture all of the data written, as well as syncing that data with recorded audio notes. This “paper replay” feature allows students, reporters and others to move easily between different parts of a class or meeting.

The pens have found something of a niche, big enough to find their way onto shelves of Best Buy and Staples, but not yet enough to get the five-year-old company out of “investment mode.”

The company had said last year that it expected to sell its millionth digital pen before the end of 2011. A Livescribe representative said the company fell “just shy” of that goal, and expects to hit the mark early this year.

As part of taking the job, Bouchard said he knew the company would need more resources than it is generating from its current digital pen business. Bouchard said the company has raised a further $10 million in commitments from existing investors — payments that will be made over the course of 2012.

“I ended up voting with my feet and they ended up voting with their wallets,” Bouchard said in an interview.


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google