Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hey, AOL Content Makers! Meet Your New Boss, Susan Lyne — And Start Thinking About Video, Right Now.

Susan Lyne AOLIf you work at AOL, and you make or sell content, and you don’t work for Arianna Huffington, you’ve got a new boss today.

But perhaps you’re like TechCrunch editor Alexia Tsotsis, and you’re wondering what Susan Lyne, AOL’s new Brand Group CEO, looks and sounds like. Happy to oblige, via a brief video interview below.

If you’re in a hurry and/or don’t want to watch six-minute shakycam clips:

  • Beyond the broad ideas she announced in her staff email last week (customers are important, so is mobile, content is a big deal, etc.), Lyne says she doesn’t have an action plan ready to spring on AOL. So if there’s yet another reorg coming, it could take a while.
  • Lyne’s resume includes stints running Gilt and Martha Stewart, but what’s probably most important for AOL is her TV career, which peaked when she ran entertainment for ABC. That doesn’t mean that she’s going to turn every AOL site into a TV show, but it does mean she thinks there’s a lot more each site can do when it comes to “programming” in general, and video in particular.
  • But what about Mike Shields’s smart critique in AdWeek, where he notes that, despite lots of past pronouncements, AOL hasn’t done a lot to create its own signature video programming?* ”If we were doing everything really well already, then I wouldn’t be here.”
  • And speaking of TechCrunch, how are things going with her cranky employees, anyway? Just swell, says Lyne, who says she’s emailed with Tsotsis, and plans to meet her in person, too. Soon! But she’s not going to stop using the word “brand,” which is good, since it’s on her business card. “What brand means is there are a set of assumptions and expectations people bring to view, whenever they come visit you. And that’s definitely what TechCrunch has. And by the way, [Tsotsis] did exactly what people expected of her [last week] when she came after me.”

Translation: If you’re trying to get fired by acting out, Alexia, a cheeky post won’t cut it. Up the ante!

*AOL’s overall video business, however, has ramped up very nicely, due to the company’s acquisition of video distributor/syndicator 5Min in 2010.


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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