Update: Full text of email is here.
While researching the AOL blogs budget cuts story this afternoon we stumbled on a much bigger story unfolding at AOL. The company is planning to shut down a number of non-performing products, say people with knowledge of the situation. The products, which include Xdrive, AOL Pictures, Bluestring and MyMobile, all fall under EVP Products and Marketing Kevin Conroy.
In an email to his staff on July 14, Conroy talked about the upcoming product reorganization. Some products will be shut down. Others will simply be ignored for the most part and fade into obscurity over time. The future of another slow growing product under Conroy, MyAOL, is also in question.
Conroy, who joined AOL in 2001, reports to President and COO Ron Grant. His peers include:
- Joanna Shields, EVP and President of People Networks. Shields is the former President of the recently acquired Bebo, and controls that property as well as AIM, ICQ, Goowy and Yedda.
- Bill Wilson, EVP Programming. Wilson controls AOL’s content sites, including the blogs, News, Movies, Lifestyle, and Celebrity Gossip. He’s seen as a rising star at AOL, with many of his properties growing rapidly.
- Ted Cahall, EVP Platforms and Technologies. Cahall owns search and provides engineering support to the other groups.
- Lynda Clarizio, EVP and President of Platform A. Calrizio runs the advertising arm of AOL.
Conroy has plenty of high profile properties left under his control, but insiders are wondering if each of them really belongs under one of the other execs’ groups. AOL Mail, for example, fits in naturally with social networking and instant messaging under Shields. MyAOL and the AOL client may be better under Wilson’s content group. The toolbar, Userplane and Truveo could all fall under Wilson or Cahall.
The real problem is that Conroy, unlike his peers, lacks any real product direction or mission. He has a hodge podge of properties and services that are either being shut down or really belong somewhere else.