Aol today confirmed a couple of big changes at the top of the company, as first reported yesterday by ourselves, Bloomberg and AllThingsD. Susan Lyne, the exec who had previously been CEO of Gilt Groupe and an Aol board member, is the new CEO of Aol’s Brand Group (including TechCrunch). Meanwhile, Artie Minson is stepping down as COO as the role disappears from the company.
As detailed in the memo from CEO Tim Armstrong, Minson is staying for a transition period, working on Aol’s “current and future commerce and subscription strategy and business.”
The length of the transition period is not specified. Meanwhile, a spokesperson confirmed that Aol will “not be backfilling the COO role.”
The reason for the changes, Armstrong notes, is to match the company’s management structure better with its strategy — a three-pronged business focusing on advertising (Aol Networks), media brands (Aol Brand Group) and subscriptions (Aol Membership). Specifically, he notes that today’s appointment of Lyne marks “more decision making and resources directly into our brands. We have spoken many times of the work we are doing to improve our brands and product and today is another step in unleashing the power of our brands for consumers and customers.” Ned Brody continues to run Aol Networks, with Bud Rosenthal as interim CEO of Aol Membership.
Lyne stepped down as CEO of Gilt last year but remained as chairperson. She then transitioned to vice chairperson, and the Aol spokesperson confirmed that she will remain in that role.
The Aol spokesperson also confirmed that Lyne is leaving the Aol board as part of the new appointment.
Prior to Gilt, Lyne was president and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
Although the brand group includes sites like TechCrunch, Engadget and recent addition gdgt, Huffington Post continues to remain separate and run separately by Arianna Huffington.
Apart from the fact that Lyne will already be familiar with the business because of her previous role as a board member, there are signs that there may be a closer relationship across all of Aol’s content operations:
Armstrong notes that Aol “will continue the work with Susan on setting up cross-site scale as we grow the content business,” and he adds that “Arianna and Susan have been friends for years and we will spend a lot of time working on deeper strategy for the future of the content business.”
Internal memo from CEO Tim Armstrong below.
Thank you for all the hard work on the 100 day sprint. The teamwork and alignment of resources is coming together nicely and it looks like there are going to be some exciting outcomes for consumers and customers.
One part of the sprint we have been working on is talent and we have announced a series of talented people joining AOL in our major segments of business. Moving to a segmented structure has allowed us to focus deeply on our brands and businesses. Returning to growth after 8 years of not growing is directly related to the talent we have and our ability to move the company into white space areas of opportunity while we improve our core business. Today, we are adding to the talent and focus of the company and I wanted to share some exciting news with you.
We are announcing a talent and leadership structure that is aligned with each of our operating units with the goal of increasing the communication flow and cross-segment operating teamwork. The update to our structure matches our strategy and will also put more decision making and resources directly into our brands. We have spoken many times of the work we are doing to improve our brands and product and today is another step in unleashing the power of our brands for consumers and customers.
We want to welcome to AOL a world-class talent who is recognized on a global basis for her experience in content, commerce, and leadership. She has been part of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s List, she has been the CEO of a publically traded brand, she is the chairman of one of the best women’s commerce businesses on the Internet, and she has been with AOL since the day we re-launched as a public company – as one of our stellar board members. Please help me welcome Susan Lyne, one of the most talented people in our space and someone who will continue to help us raise the talent and growth level at AOL. Susan is not only a world-class talent, she is a world-class person and you will see that as you get to know her. She joins Karen Dykstra, our former board member and current super-star CFO, as a leader who is moving from being a board member to being a full time AOLer. Please welcome Susan, she will be in the office today and you will hear more from her over the next week.
Susan will be CEO of the AOL Brand Group, a group that includes some of the Internet’s best brands. She will manage the AOL brand portfolio on a global basis. Susan has been a highly engaged board member and I have leaned on her often during the turn-around and having her join the company is a significant step for AOL. As part of the continued focus on our investment in the Huffington Post, Arianna will continue to report to me and we will continue the work with Susan on setting up cross-site scale as we grow the content business. Arianna and Susan have been friends for years and we will spend a lot of time working on deeper strategy for the future of the content business.
The company will be organized with Susan running the AOL Brand Group, Ned Brody running AOL Networks, and Bud Rosenthal, acting as interim CEO of AOL Membership. Susan, Ned, and Bud will report to me and will join Arianna and the other Sales, Technology, Legal, HR, and Communications leaders.
Another part of today’s announcement is that we will be restructuring the COO role within the organization. As part of the changes, our talented COO leader, Artie will work directly with me on our current and future commerce and subscription strategy and business. Artie has made meaningful contributions to AOL as part of the executive team and he is at a point in his career where he is looking for his next step and he will be doing that at AOL. Artie’s teamwork on the turnaround of AOL and his ability to look for growth opportunities in AOL’s core business is something we will continue as we look deeper into the subscription area.
We are building a company that improves our consumers’ and our customers’ lives. We’re going for world-class products and a creative organization that is backed up by a strong financial backbone. We’re going to do both – grow and strengthen. Please join me in welcoming Susan Lyne and let’s keep up the work that has allowed us to bring AOL back to life – TA