Ina Fried

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Exclusive: Lytro CEO Ren Ng to Step Aside, Become Executive Chairman

Lytro CEO Ren Ng said Friday that he is stepping aside as CEO of the light-field photography company, in order to spend more time on the vision for the company and less on its day-to-day operations.

“The complexity of running day-to-day operations continues to grow,” Ng told AllThingsD. “We are strengthening the management team to prepare ourselves for the next big phase of the company.”

It has been just over a year since Lytro first unveiled its technology, which creates “living pictures” that can be refocused after a photo is taken, among other features. The company started selling the devices from its Web site this spring.

Unlike a lot of companies in Silicon Valley, Ng notes that Lytro has opted to handle all aspects of its business, including hardware, software, distribution and support. That has left him with less time to be the voice of the company and work on the future of the company’s technology.

Ng will become executive chairman and will remain at Lytro full time. The company has launched an external search for a new CEO. In the meantime, current Executive Chairman Charles Chi will serve as interim CEO. It was Chi who demonstrated the Lytro to Walt Mossberg at our AsiaD conference last fall.

Before joining Lytro, Chi was a general partner at venture firm Greylock Partners for 10 years.

Although Lytro is still working through the growing pains of manufacturing and shipping its first product, the company has grown rapidly, raising roughly $50 million in funding, and expanding to 80 employees.

Lytro hasn’t said how many cameras it has sold since beginning shipments earlier this year.

“We’re not disclosing numbers externally but sales have been very good, and continue to exceed our current supply,” Ng said.

Ng did say the company has increased manufacturing capacity and has shrunk the wait time for those placing orders from several months to about a month. “We hope to be in a place to ship immediately soon,” he said.

For the time being, the company plans to continue selling the device directly, and is primarily focused on improving its software for the current camera more than actively developing the next generation of hardware.

As for the CEO search, Ng said there isn’t a specific time frame.

“We’re getting going right away,” he said. “We’ll take the time it requires to find a great candidate.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald