Ina Fried

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Lytro Names Former Ning Head Rosenthal as CEO

Light field camera maker Lytro is naming former Ning chief Jason Rosenthal as its new CEO.

Rosenthal, who also worked at HP/Opsware, Netscape and AOL, takes over a company with a unique technology but lots of work ahead of it. Though its product is unlike those of its rivals, it competes in the broader camera market against heavyweights Nikon, Canon and Sony. Plus, there’s the fact that many people are just using their cellphones rather than carry a camera.

Charles Chi, who had been acting CEO, will remain on the company’s board of directors, while former CEO and founder Ren Ng will remain in his post as executive chairman.

An announcement of Rosenthal’s hiring is expected to come later on Tuesday.

In an interview, Chi said that Lytro wasn’t looking for a lead engineer or a head marketer, as it feels it is well-stocked in both regards.

“What we are looking for is somebody who has some experience in developing transformational businesses,” he told AllThingsD. “That’s what Lytro is in the midst of — getting a new idea adopted across a mature marketplace.”

Chi said that he was also looking for someone who could mesh well with Lytro’s culture, which includes young people and experienced managers as well as a range of disciplines.

“We’re doing a lot of different things,” he said. “Everything from component-level work to systems to firmware to lens optics and Web and desktop software.”

As for where Lytro is headed in the coming months, Chi said to expect continued advances.

“We’ve really just scratched the surface of the potential of the technology,” he said. “Our first product was really a testament to what was possible.”

So will we see a follow-on camera this year, or just more updates to the existing one? Chi wouldn’t say.

“We want to keep the market surprised,” he said.

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