Kara Swisher

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Exclusive: Patch Media CEO Brod Now Heading AOL's Venture Unit

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In yet another appointment of an exec close to AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong, Patch Media CEO Jon Brod (pictured here) has taken over the new venture arm of the Time Warner (TWX) online unit.

AOL confirmed the appointment to BoomTown.

Patch is a hyperlocal community news site, in which Armstrong was the major investor. It was bought by AOL in June for just under $10 million.

Like recently installed AOL advertising head Jeff Levick, who worked with Armstrong at Google (GOOG), Brod has also known him for a long time.

He ran Patch for Armstrong and was president and COO of Polar Capital Group, Armstrong’s private investment company, which is focused on the media, technology and sports sectors.

Previous to that, Brod worked as an exec at InterActiveCorp (IACI) and even at the National Basketball Association.

Now Brod will helm AOL Ventures, a new unit of AOL that Armstrong created as part of a larger new strategy to invest in new things, and he will manage a portfolio of some of its more difficult recent acquisitions.

That means Brod will be figuring out what to do with AOL’s pricey purchase of its Bebo social networking site, as well as the Truveo video search unit, widgetmaker Userplane.

Sources close to the situation said AOL is bullish on Truveo (even though the previous management at AOL was poised to sell it), thinks Userplane’s once-promising prospects have dwindled due to neglect and will likely seek to sell Bebo.

But Brod will also be charged with investing in start-ups and also incubating.

“The Ventures group is about fostering innovation around the globe,” said Brod, in an interview with me. “And we’re going to create the Internet’s most entrpreneurial-friendly environment in order to accomplish this.”

The New York-based Patch is a platform that does deeply localized coverage of communities on a range of topics, from announcements to news to events to obituaries. It is aimed at competing with local newspapers and other media.


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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