By K.C. Neel Jim Wood had the world by the tail. He was a newlywed. He and his wife, Lisa Lee, had started their own consulting firm called Broadband Insights. He was dedicated to his three daughters and to his church. And he died quite suddenly, leaving a void in many people’s lives that will likely never be filled. Wood, who passed away in October from a genetic blood disorder at the age of 43, has worked in the cable industry for 19 years, holding several senior management positions at Tele-Communications Inc. and AT&T Broadband. He helped oversee both MSOs’ digital convergence and forged alliances within consumer electronics and broadband regulatory groups. As VP, advanced services, at AT&T Broadband, Wood directed hundreds of consultants and integrated multiple companies. Among his professional accomplishments, Wood led TCI’s conversion of 16 million cable television subs from analog to digital within a year and deployed 3.5 million digital set-top boxes within AT&T Broadband systems. Wood recently launched his consulting firm with Lisa, whom he married in June, to help operators develop technology that had a fighting chance of making money, says friend and former co-worker Courtney Cowgill, who is now CFO and corporate treasurer of Oceanic Exploration Co.
“Making technology pay for itself and actually make money was one of the things Jim did best,” Cowgill says. “That is what he and Lisa were doing—and doing quite well—when he died. But that was only part of what made Jim special.” Wood was a food and wine connoisseur. He threw a party every year called “The Best of the Best” to which everybody had to bring something that cost $100—a bottle of wine, a jar of caviar, a box of cigars. “We might have to have one this year just in his honor, but it won’t be the same because Jim enjoyed those parties so much,” Cowgill says. “The world is a much quieter place without him and that is too bad. Jim was so much fun and he was so good at whatever he did.” Liberty Media’s CFO Tony Werner agrees. Wood worked for Werner at TCI and says his hallmark was his positive attitude “even under the highest stress and duress.” Even vendors admired Wood. Ira Lehrman, VP, strategy, for N2 Broadband, was working for General Instrument when he met Wood several years ago. “I worked closely with Jim in the rollout of the GI platform,” Lehrman says. “He was tough on vendors, but in the end, the vendors performed better and the industry benefited.” Eventually, Wood hired Lehrman to run his systems engineering group. “If he gave you an assignment, he left you alone to come up with a solution,” Lehrman says. “He expected the best and often got it.” A fund to benefit Wood’s daughters has been set up; contributions can be made to the Jim Wood Memorial Fund c/o Ellis Family Services, P.O. Box 270334, Littleton, CO., 80127.

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