Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

AOL Ad Head Clarizio Out–Being Replaced by Former Yahoo Sales Head Coleman

The game of executive musical chairs among Web companies keeps on going, with sources telling BoomTown that AOL ad head Lynda Clarizio will be departing the online service and replaced by former high-ranking Yahoo ad exec Greg Coleman (pictured here).

Last week, this column first reported on former Yahoo media head Scott Moore taking a similar content job at Microsoft (MSFT), which had been vacated by Jeff Dossett, who took Moore’s job at Yahoo.

The less confusing move at AOL, with Coleman taking over for Clarizio and which has been in the works for only a week, could be announced as early as today, although I have been hearing rumors of such a development since late last week.

Clarizio has been head of Platform-A, the overall name for AOL’s advertising business, which includes a lot of various online ad companies AOL has bought in recent years.

She had been running AOL’s Advertising.com in Baltimore before being tapped to integrate them better over the last year, after a series of ad execs shuffled in and out of AOL.

But, said several sources, as a former AOL lawyer and dealmaker, Clarizio (pictured here) is not regarded by top execs the kind of nitty-gritty sales exec that AOL needs now, as it seeks to revive its fortunes.

AOL’s ad business has lagged badly of late, with owner Time Warner (TWX) pre-announcing that the online service’s results would be particularly weak this quarter. Time Warner reports quarterly earnings tomorrow.

Since a much-chewed-over possible merger with Yahoo (YHOO) has been put on ice, with the recent arrival of new CEO Carol Bartz, Time Warner and AOL execs have decided to focus on strengthening the online service and making much needed changes.

AOL recently announced a 10 percent layoff of its staff of 7,000, part of the rightsizing that has been going on.

And its valuation was also recently written down by Google (GOOG), to $5.5 billion from $20 billion several years ago.

AOL had already been in the midst of renovating its communications and social-networking assets under a new division called People Networks, which is run by former Bebo head Joanna Shields.

Its content arm has also gotten a different blog-centered direction and name–MediaGlow–under Bill Wilson.

Now, it’s apparently time for the ad leg of AOL’s three-pronged new strategy its future business is resting on to be fixed.

The hiring of Coleman came suddenly, said several sources. He had been considering a top job at another well-known online company and also was planning to move to a start-up he has been running to the Silicon Valley area.

He was hired by AOL CEO Randy Falco, whom Coleman has known for a long time, only last week, after Falco heard that Coleman was considering other positions.

Sources at Yahoo said the hiring had to be cleared by the company and Bartz, at Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes’s request, due to competitive issues.

Coleman is indeed an experienced online ad exec, who was at Yahoo for seven years, responsible for all advertising revenues worldwide. He came to Yahoo from Reader’s Digest.

But Coleman ran into Yahoo’s management buzzsaw after trouble hit the company in 2007. He was one of the first in a long line of execs to leave the troubled company, departing in one of its many controversial reorganizations.

But Yahoo’s ad business did grow strongly under him and former Yahoo ad exec Wenda Millard. She was also pushed out of Yahoo and now is Co-CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Since then, Coleman has been running a Los Angeles-based start-up called NetSeer, which focuses on ad targeting.

Given his media background, Coleman is likely to be key to expanding premium branded advertising display sales across AOL’s advertising and programming networks.

He will move to New York and report to AOL President and COO Ron Grant, said sources, although Platform-A has key offices in Baltimore and San Francisco too.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald