Digg To AOL Exodus Claims Biz Dev VP Bob Buch

Former Digg biz dev head Bob Buch will as of Monday take on a new role as AOL‘s VP of Business Development. Buch will be joining Digg’s former Chief Strategy Officer Mike Maser, former Marketing Manager Aubrey Sabala, and former Head of Communications Kiersten Hollars, who have all made the switch over to AOL.

Buch will be part of a team helmed by former Google Managing Counsel and current AOL Senior Vice President of Business Development Jared Grusd.

From Buch:

“In addition to working with the usual suspects (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, etc.), I’m going to prioritize working closely with a lot of the startups where most of the innovation is happening in this space.”

Since Buch joined Digg in 2007, he’s negotiated key partnerships for the site including the New York Times, Dow Jones, Facebook, Twitter, CBS, CNN and Microsoft. Buch also launched and managed the Digg Ads Platform.

The talent migration (Hollars was the first employee to switch) presents a challenge to the news aggregation site at a critical time, as the impending alpha launch of Digg 4 is rumored to be coming next week, co-founder Jay Adelson has also recently left and the site is currently on the receiving end of allegations of a gaming scandal.

Update: The story has developed. Digg CEO Kevin Rose claimed in a tweet that two out of the four employees who moved to AOL were “let go,” but insists in an email that Buch was not fired, whatever that means. Buch informs TechCrunch that while it was technically true that he was part of a layoff, he had asked to be laid off.

Update 2: Ashton Kutcher has also weighed in on Buch’s departure, from his iPhone.