Andy Miller, president and chief operating officer at the motion-controller startup Leap Motion, no longer has a day-to-day role there, the company confirmed today.
However, the former Apple iAd chief and co-owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings will remain an adviser to the company, as Fortune reported based on Miller’s LinkedIn updates and tweets.
Leap Motion spokeswoman Eva Babiak said today, “I can confirm that Andy is no longer serving as president & COO of Leap Motion. I can also share that he remains on board as an adviser. He led the Series A investment and played a big role in getting us where we are today over the past two years.”
Leap Motion’s product is a $79.99 controller that plugs into a Mac or PC and allows users to control compatible applications using hand gestures. The company has secured distribution in many online and retail stores around the world, has strategic partnerships with companies like HP and Asus, and inspired the launch of about 200 Leap Motion apps.
But the constant stream of press releases from the company belied trouble beneath the surface. Miller stepped out about three weeks ago, when Leap Motion laid off 10 percent of its staff, or about a dozen people.
That group included many Miller hires, including the VP of finance and VP of marketing.
A person familiar with Leap Motion described tension and “big clashes” at the company between Miller and co-founders Michael Buckwald and David Holz.
That was in the context of parallel crazy next-generation interface products like the Oculus Rift gaining steam — and eventually being bought for $2 billion by Facebook — while Leap Motion faced delays and a less-than-stellar launch.
“Andy loves deals,” said the source. “He wasn’t really a COO, putting infrastructure into the company; he was a wheeler and dealer pushing for going really big, really fast. The co-founders realized this is a longer-term game, so maybe we should be approaching it a little slower.”
Miller said on Twitter he is now working with startups and “scheming on [his] next project,” while remaining involved with the Kings basketball team. He was previously CEO and co-founder of Quattro Wireless, which was bought by Apple for $275 million in 2010.
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