AOL Loses Its Chief Lifestreamer, David Liu

AOL is losing another longtime executive, David Liu. He is the senior vice president in charge of Global Messaging, which includes AIM, ICQ, and AOL’s more recent Lifestreaming products. Liu spearheaded the transformation of AIM into a lifestreaming client that mixes private and public messages from Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere.

When CEO Tim Armstrong was looking for someone to head up AOL’s overall Internet and mobile communications, which also includes email, Liu was the strongest internal candidate. But Armstrong decided to go outside the company and hired Brad Garlinghouse, who used to be in charge of all of Yahoo’s communications products.

That, coupled with AOL’s shift towards becoming a content company, convinced Liu it was time to move on. This morning he sent out an email announcing his departure in about a month from now.

Liu is already being pulled into the startup world as an angel investor (in SimpleGeo). He’s also been talking to VC and private equity firms about joining as a partner focusing on realtime startups.

In the early part of this decade, when many people inside AOL were still fighting the open Web, Liu launched the first portal and grew it to 50 million users. He also relaunched the AOL Toolbar.