Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

AOL Ad Head Greg Coleman Reorgs Too! (It's Spreading Like the Flu at Web Firms Today)

Another Web company, another management restructuring!

Yahoo (YHOO) reorg fever struck AOL today too, as its advertising head, Greg Coleman (pictured here), moved the exec chairs around his domain at AOL’s Platform-A unit.

Coleman–who actually once was Yahoo’s sales head before taking the new gig at the Time Warner (TWX) online unit earlier this month–is replacing some execs and elevating others. Also there is some sleepy ad-serving stuff about the migration to its ADTECH system.

In related news earlier today, BoomTown reported that AOL International head Maneesh Dhir was leaving.

You must all know the drill by now, after endless reorg memos today, so here’s the entire skinny in the memo Coleman sent out (also, after the jump, is the 2009 goals memo sent today by AOL CEO Randy Falco that says, let’s be honest, next to nothing):

From: Coleman, Greg
Sent: Thu 2/26/2009 7:00 PM
To: Platform-A@platform-a.com
Subject: Unlocking Our Potential

Dear Platform-A colleagues,

When I met with you earlier this month, we talked about the big mission we’re embarking on and the vision I have for our future.

Over the past year, you’ve done great work integrating Platform-A and creating a powerful business from the ground up. Platform-A now provides marketers the most comprehensive and cost-efficient tools and technologies for the digital advertising space.

Just today, we took another big step forward with the migration of our ad inventory to ADTECH–an incredible challenge and a big win for us and our advertising partners. My thanks go out to the technologies and ADTECH teams who made this happen.

I’ve also been inspired by what I’ve heard from people throughout the organization, many of whom reached out to me during my first few weeks here to express their confidence in our ability to succeed.

Now, after a year of transition, key acquisitions and integration, we need to turn our attention to unlocking the full potential of this great business. And we need to move aggressively.

This will mean changes in how we’re organized, particularly in our ad sales functions. Over the next few weeks, I will be rolling out a multi-tiered plan that will address our infrastructure, make necessary role changes and bring in talent where needed. I want to tell you about some initial steps we’re taking today.

First, Don Kennedy will be stepping down as head of ad sales, a role I will assume on an interim basis. Don and I agreed that his many talents are best served in a different capacity, and I look forward to working with him in the coming weeks to define that role.

In addition, Mike Peralta will be leaving Platform-A. I want to thank Mike for his contributions to the business, and wish him well on his future endeavors. His team will report temporarily to Mark Ellis.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Mark will also be working closely with me as an advisor as we work through the changes ahead. Mark is a veteran in the Internet advertising space, and in the short time I’ve been here, I’ve quickly come to value Mark’s insights into the market and Platform-A. I’ve asked Don to lend his keen insights as an advisor during this process as well.

We will also be holding two days of meetings next Tuesday and Wednesday with regional ad sales executives to discuss the plan and get their input.

As we think about our growth and our future, please know that our mandate is clear. Even in this economy, we must ensure we have the best sales teams and the best tools across the country to serve our clients and grow our share of the market.

I came to Platform-A because I know this business has an incredibly bright future. And I know that working together, and working closely with our colleagues in MediaGlow and People Networks, we will realize that future.

Greg

AOL’s 2009 Goals

Dear AOL colleague,

This year marks the third of our three-year turnaround plan for AOL. Over the past two years, we’ve transformed the company and focused on three key growth businesses–MediaGlow, Platform-A and People Networks–positioning AOL to succeed over the long term.

Last year, we saw progress in each of these businesses. MediaGlow experienced sustained and healthy increases in users and engagement, proving we can grow our Web audience by creating experiences that appeal to people’s passions. Our People Networks unit embarked on a series of innovations and integrations that will set our social media experiences apart from the competition. On the advertising front, we integrated our acquisitions and made progress in other areas, although we continue to face challenges in premium display ad sales, which we are aggressively addressing.

If 2008 was about aligning our company against our core businesses, this year is about executing on our goals in what’s sure to continue to be a difficult market.

To succeed, we’ll need to continue operating as efficiently as possible, taking advantage of every available opportunity and remaining focused in a noisy marketplace. Our 2009 goals are designed to provide that focus. The goals may look familiar to you, which is a testament to the fact that our strategy over the past two years is the right one. As before, each of these goals will have specific metrics attached to them, which your business leaders and managers will be communicating in the near future.

Publishing. Over the past 18 months, we’ve reinvented our approach to programming, and as a result we’re successfully and efficiently reaching a younger and more valuable audience. This year, our new MediaGlow business unit will build on this momentum, launching 30 new edited niche sites and thousands of automatically programmed sites, creating original programming in our Los Angeles and New York studios and growing our audience worldwide, while continuing to enhance our ability to monetize our programming.

Advertising. Platform-A today offers advertisers easy access to the largest reach and the most sophisticated set of advertising tools available online, thanks to the integration last year of our seven advertising acquisitions. This year, we will build on Platform-A’s unmatched strengths to help marketers fully harness digital media to build brands and enhance online performance, worldwide.

Social Media. People Networks’ mission is to connect people with everyone and everything they care about. Last year, the group focused on integrating Bebo, AIM, ICQ, Goowy, Yedda, SocialThing!, Userplane and our other community properties, which combined reach more than 90 million worldwide. This year it will launch a series of innovations that leverage the strengths of this integration, starting this month with breakthrough updates to Bebo, and proceeding to a program to socialize the Web, updates to AIM and much more. In 2009, People Networks will create the most engaging and useful social media services available with the goal of making it simple for consumers to live their lives online.

Products & Technologies. In 2008, the Platforms team grew the Search business worldwide by more than 7% year over year and the MapQuest and Commerce & Marketplace teams showed strong profitability and feature innovation. At the same time, the global publishing and Relegence teams helped build out the systems that would become MediaGlow. The Products team focused its efforts on core products–Mail, Mobile, Desktop and Toolbars–that offered us the best opportunities for growth, while exiting dozens of underperforming ones. This year, the combined Platforms and Products teams will continue to innovate on these core products and services. The Technologies team will continue to improve our ability to launch and scale new sites and manage our data centers and network as efficiently as possible.

Access. Over the past two years, the Access team has done a remarkable job of managing this business, expanding margins, improving our ability to convert subscribers to free users and cutting costs, while maintaining the quality of the service. Access continues to be an important source of revenues and profit for the company, and this year, the team will continue to deliver in these areas.

Cost Management. Our efforts to effectively manage costs across the board have been a significant success, positioning AOL for the troubling economic times we currently face. In 2009, we will continue to look for ways to prudently manage our business and align costs with our ad-supported business. This isn’t just about cutting costs, it’s about smart resource allocation.

Living Our Values. Achieving our goals will mean nothing if we lose site of our company’s values. Living our values – integrity, collaboration, inclusiveness, outward focus, innovation – is a prerequisite to hitting our numbers. In 2009, we will continue to embody all of our company’s values and behaviors in everything we do.

You know as well as I do that this year will present us with new trials, new surprises and new opportunities. I’m confident that by working together, guided by these goals and our shared values, we’ll achieve much in 2009.

Thanks for everything you do every day to make AOL great.

Randy


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik