Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Exclusive: Amid Layoffs in AOL’s AIM and Mail Ranks, Top Execs Shellen and Van Miltenburg to Also Depart

According to sources, AOL will be announcing that it is making cuts of up to 40 employees in its communication products teams, specifically its AIM instant messaging and AOL Mail units. As part of the changes, its SVP of business operations, Eric van Miltenburg, and AIM head Jason Shellen will be leaving.

[UPDATE: AOL confirmed those moves to be several hours after this post appeared.]

Shellen is a particularly high-profile departure, having sold his start-up Thing Labs, maker of the Brizzly family of Web-based social software, to AOL in 2010. The Thing Labs team, headed by the Google and Blogger vet, had been integrated into AOL’s AIM and other similar offerings.

Van Miltenburg, a former Yahoo exec, had headed up business operations for the now-shifted consumer applications unit.

The departures are among a number of exits by AOL execs who had come to the New York-based Internet company, which has struggled to turn itself around in recent years under CEO Tim Armstrong. The company is now facing a challenge from an activist shareholder, one of the reasons for a renewed focus on cost-cutting and other restructuring.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work