So I guess TechCrunch has a new boss.
As first reported by Re/code’s Kara Swisher, and confirmed by AOL, Susan Lyne is stepping down from her role as CEO of AOL’s brand group, which includes sites like Engadget, Joystiq and, yes, TechCrunch.
Lyne will be taking charge of a venture fund within AOL that backs women-focused companies, while responsibility for the brand group will be split between two people — Maureen Sullivan, who will continue to run lifestyle and personal finance sites, as well as AOL.com, and Luke Beatty, who will be in charge of the sites covering tech, autos, and entertainment.
Beatty joined AOL almost exactly a year ago, where he most recently served as the brand group’s head of product. (He’ll continue to lead the new product team.) He previously founded Associated Content, and also worked at Yahoo (which acquired Associated Content) and as a managing director at Techstars. His new title is President, Media Brands.
Beatty told me that his purview is “premium content and premium utilities.” We didn’t get into too much detail about his plans (it sounds like he’s still transitioning from a pure product focus), but he did say, “Mobile experiences are going to require utility at some level, and as content brands we have to figure that out.”
When I asked if the brand group is being scaled back as AOL invests more on the ad-tech side of the business, another AOL spokesperson on the call jumped in, saying that even though AOL has shut down some existing sites (and it spun out hyperlocal news effort Patch), it’s investing more in its existing brands.
Beatty agreed, adding, “When I first joined, somebody handed me a list of our brands, and it was long. We’ve shut some of those down — mankind probably assumed they were shut down already, but they still had people maintaining them.” Now, he said, AOL doesn’t have to worry about “legacy care and feeding.”
Not to be self-centered or anything, but my real question was: Is this good news for TechCrunch? As a lowly writer, I don’t really know — it takes a while before corporate management changes trickle down to affect me. But Alexia seems happy, so I’m happy.