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Sirius XM Radio

(SIRI) - Get Sirius XM Holdings, Inc. Report

Chairman Gary Parsons goes out on top.

The XM founder, who launched half the satellite radio industry, and steered the cash-burning pay-radio model through a period of fiery growth, said in a press release Friday that "now is the right time to step aside."

Now being the eve of Sirius' first-ever year of subscriber declines.

Gary Parsons

As of September, Sirius' subscriber rolls, which

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include unsold cars at auto dealerships

, has dropped to 18.5 million, down from 19 million at the close of last year, and below the forecast the company provided a year ago.

You can't blame Parsons, however, for wanting out. When you are a growth company and the growth stops, investors lose interest also.

Parsons will be remembered for prodding the protracted merger process with Sirius. He also stood strong during Sirius' brush with insolvency.

But anyone would eventually tire of managing a company

living off debt

and the distant promise that cash flow will one day reverse to positive.

One thing Parsons probably doesn't want to stick around for is the slow deterioration of his work and the reversal of the company's once rapid subscriber gains.


Written by Scott Moritz in New York