BBC loses tech chief Huggers to Intel

Erik 'Tree' Huggers, the director of the Future Media & Technologies division at the BBC, is to leave the broadcaster for sunnier climes, becoming the general manager of Intel's Digital Home Group based out of California.

Huggers, who was with the BBC's technology group for almost two years before being made director in August 2008, has presided over the group during a time when the BBC's digital services - including the company's various websites, it's MHEG-powered 'red button' service on digital satellite and Freeview, and its multi-faceted mobile services - saw record growth, with the BBC recently reporting that it delivered a record-breaking 145 million programmes via its BBC iPlayer streaming service during December last year.

Huggers' contribution to the group is not to be downplayed - and he is considered such an important contributor to the group that BBC director-general Mark Thompson has decided to replace him with two other warm bodies: John Linwood, currently responsible for the BBC's Information & Archives division, will become the broadcaster's chief technology officer and head up a new technology division, to support the BBC's digital departments in terms of production, broadcast, connectivity, and enterprise support; Ralph Rivera will take over the other half of Huggers' role, becoming the director of future media and taking overall control of the BBC's research and development arm.

The changes to the company's organisation are due to be completed by March, after which Huggers will move to his new role at Intel.

Speaking of the move in an internal memo to all staff, director-general Thompson stated: "Erik is the key architect for a radical refocusing of BBC Online as part of our proposals for Delivering Quality First, which we will be announcing in due course.

"Since he became Director in August 2008, Future Media & Technology has helped to re-establish the BBC’s strength in technology, and as a result changed perceptions of the BBC as an innovator and strengthened our relationship with the public.

"He has been a dynamic and inspiring colleague and I wish him all the best with his new role at Intel."