AOL Confirms Ned Brody Has Resigned As Head Of AOL Networks, CEO Armstrong Takes Over In The Interim [Memo]

Some turmoil in the management ranks at AOL, with Yahoo, apparently, hoping to profit as part of its ongoing hiring spree. AOL (which owns TechCrunch) has confirmed to us that Ned Brody, who had been the CEO of advertising division AOL Networks, has resigned from the company, on the heels of a report in AllThingsD that Yahoo is tapping him to become its new head of sales for North America, a role that has been vacant for the last year. A replacement has not been named for Brody; AOL says that CEO Tim Armstrong will be running Networks in the interim instead. Yahoo has yet to confirm the report.

Update: The news has now been confirmed as well in an internal memo from Armstrong, included below — Armstrong says Brody has “resigned to pursue other opportunities.” Armstrong also notes that Peter Land is joining as SVP of corporate communications, coming from Pepsico. And Yahoo has responded: “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” said a spokesperson in an email. [original story below]

If the ATD report is accurate, it could add some tension to the relationship between the two companies, who work together in a display advertising partnership along with Microsoft.

Armstrong has already started taking up some of the reign in promoting that advertising business, with an appearance at the Ad:Tech conference in San Francisco earlier this week.

Brody’s departure comes less than two months after AOL announced two other big management changes: Artie Minson, who had been the COO, is leaving the company with the COO role disappearing (he’s staying on first for a ‘transition period’); and Susan Lyne is the new CEO of AOL’s brand group.

ATD’s story puts a particularly dramatic spin on this latest move. Brody has been approached specifically to fill an important hole in Yahoo’s business that has been vacant since Ross Levinsohn left the role. Today, North America represents the biggest part of Yahoo’s business both in terms of advertising revenue and audience. At the same time, because this is also the most important part of AOL’s business, the latter company has a 12-month non-compete clause in place for Brody.

It has not been confirmed that Brody is actually taking this job, but ATD reports that there may be a legal challenge put up by AOL if he does because Yahoo may look to “subvert the 12-month non-compete.”

AOL Networks is the smallest part of AOL’s business today, but it’s also the fastest growing. In Q4, Networks brought in revenues of $183.4 million, compared to $213.2 million for the Brand group (which includes TechCrunch) and $230.8 million for the Membership group (which includes AOL mail and paid services). But that was a rise of 37%, compared to a fall of 9% for Membership and a rise of 4% for Brand.

For its part, Yahoo has been buying, hiring and acqui-hiring lots of people across the board in its bid to reposition itself — once great, but in more recent years in great decline — and make it fighting fit.

Those changes have included more or less totally replacing the executive team, starting with new CEO Marissa Mayer and including a new COO, CFO and more.

So far, Mayer has been impressing investors, with the stock price up 53% in the last six months.

AOLers –

With growth comes change and I wanted to share some news with you today.

First, Ned Brody has resigned to pursue other opportunities and I have stepped in as acting head of AOL Networks. I am just coming off an incredible few days at ad:tech San Francisco where in addition to the keynote, I spent time with the AOL Networks team and in client meetings. We truly have a stellar group of strong operators within AOL Networks, an extremely strong product organization and a strategy that is really paying off in the marketplace. Now with the launch of MARKETPLACE, we can offer solutions across the entire digital advertising ecosystem. The strategy will remain the same and we will continue to look for ways to quicken the pace of its execution.

Change is natural for large organizations like AOL and we are no strangers to change. It has made us stronger and has led us to the significantly improved operating performance we have reported in recent quarters. We have strong leaders, strong teams, and a strong plan.

As many of you know, we’ve been conducting a search for a head of communications. I’m pleased to announce that we have hired Peter Land as Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications. Peter, who officially joins us April 22, will develop and oversee our global external and internal corporate communications strategies and work with each of the brands to drive their respective communications efforts. He’ll be a member of the executive team and report into me.

Peter joins AOL from PepsiCo, where he served in a number of senior leadership roles – most recently overseeing global media strategy, financial communications and issues management. He joined PepsiCo in 2009 to oversee communications for the PepsiCo America Beverages division and manage the company’s corporate digital strategy.

Peter brings more than 25 years of senior level communications experience working for several of the world’s leading media companies and brands. He has an ability to navigate the dynamic media and digital environments, develop and manage teams worldwide and work strategically and effectively in both the consumer marketing and corporate reputation arenas, and he will be a critically important member of our leadership team.

I have spent a lot of time with Peter already, and he’s excited to join the team. His experience will align well with our brand company mission. He comes with world-class brand experience, and he has managed multi-faceted, multi-stakeholder efforts on a global stage, which will become more and more important to AOL as we continue to grow.

Before joining PepsiCo, Peter was a global managing director of Edelman. Earlier in his career, he was Director of Marketing Communications for the NBA and worked for Kraft Foods in London as Director of European Promotions, among other roles.

Let’s thank Ned for his contributions and welcome Peter to the team.

Image: Flickr