Kara Swisher

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Confirmed: AOL Says Sales Head Has Resigned to “Pursue Other Opportunities” (Internal Memo)

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As I reported yesterday, AOL’s advertising sales head Ned Brody has resigned.

He headed AOL Networks — which used to be called Advertising.com — selling premium display, video and mobile network ads for the Web portal. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has stepped in to take over the role for now.

The New York company has confirmed the departure “to pursue other opportunities.” Multiple sources told me yesterday that that opportunity was an offer from Yahoo to take over as head of its key America sales unit. That appointment is not official as yet, but the Silicon Valley Internet giant has apparently dangled Brody a lucrative pay package that includes not working for a year to deal with a non-compete agreement he has with AOL.

While non-competes are hard to enforce in California, where Yahoo has its HQ, Brody lives in Washington, D.C., and works in both New York and Maryland, where they are not quite as easy to slip out of. It’s not clear whether the New York-based AOL will take any legal action if Brody accepted a job at Yahoo, but the company has informed Yahoo of the potential issue.

In simplest terms, it’s a basic talent raid, which Yahoo is doing because it needs a strong sales leader in its most important, revenue-generating market. Former Americas head Ross Levinsohn, who also served as interim CEO, left the company after Marissa Mayer was selected as top exec at Yahoo; the well-regarded revenue chief Michael Barrett left the company after Mayer picked Henrique De Castro as COO.

Since then, De Castro has been Yahoo’s face to Madison Avenue, as he has searched for someone to fly the purple flag with marketers and also lead Yahoo’s sales troops. Having an internal leader is key because De Castro dramatically changed the sales structure at the company since he arrived, causing some confusion internally.

AOL has also had some internal management turmoil over time, most recently with the stepping down of COO Artie Minson.

More to come, obvi, but here’s the memo from Armstrong on the Brody departure:

AOLers —

With growth comes change and I wanted to share some news with you today.

First, Ned Brody has resigned to pursue other opportunities and I have stepped in as acting head of AOL Networks. I am just coming off an incredible few days at ad:tech San Francisco where in addition to the keynote, I spent time with the AOL Networks team and in client meetings. We truly have a stellar group of strong operators within AOL Networks, an extremely strong product organization and a strategy that is really paying off in the marketplace. Now with the launch of MARKETPLACE, we can offer solutions across the entire digital advertising ecosystem. The strategy will remain the same and we will continue to look for ways to quicken the pace of its execution.

Change is natural for large organizations like AOL and we are no strangers to change. It has made us stronger and has led us to the significantly improved operating performance we have reported in recent quarters. We have strong leaders, strong teams, and a strong plan.

As many of you know, we’ve been conducting a search for a head of communications. I’m pleased to announce that we have hired Peter Land as Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications. Peter, who officially joins us April 22, will develop and oversee our global external and internal corporate communications strategies and work with each of the brands to drive their respective communications efforts. He’ll be a member of the executive team and report into me.

Peter joins AOL from PepsiCo, where he served in a number of senior leadership roles — most recently overseeing global media strategy, financial communications and issues management. He joined PepsiCo in 2009 to oversee communications for the PepsiCo America Beverages division and manage the company’s corporate digital strategy.

Peter brings more than 25 years of senior level communications experience working for several of the world’s leading media companies and brands. He has an ability to navigate the dynamic media and digital environments, develop and manage teams worldwide and work strategically and effectively in both the consumer marketing and corporate reputation arenas, and he will be a critically important member of our leadership team.

I have spent a lot of time with Peter already, and he’s excited to join the team. His experience will align well with our brand company mission. He comes with world-class brand experience, and he has managed multi-faceted, multi-stakeholder efforts on a global stage, which will become more and more important to AOL as we continue to grow.

Before joining PepsiCo, Peter was a global managing director of Edelman. Earlier in his career, he was Director of Marketing Communications for the NBA and worked for Kraft Foods in London as Director of European Promotions, among other roles.

Let’s thank Ned for his contributions and welcome Peter to the team.

– TA


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