Another high-level AOL executive is heading for the exit door after the company shifted its content strategy again with the $315 million acquisitionof the Huffington Post. David Eun (pictured left), the ex-Googler recruited by AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong to be president of AOL media and studios, is leaving. Eun is a causality of the Huff Po purchase that put the charismatic high profile founder Arianna Huffington in charge of AOL’s content.
Tech nerds and gadget geeks over the age of 35 should have no trouble recalling the company Ziff Davis – a former publishing powerhouse home to such magazines as Computer World, PC Week and Red Herring. Ziff’s glory days were in the 1980s and 1990s and it scaled dizzying heights as its magazines groaned under the strain of advertising. Media observers would weigh issues of say Computer World for sport not unlike putting the September issue of fashion mags on the scales.
Former AOL Media President Bill Wilson has snagged 10 of his former colleagues from his old company to join the venture that develops sites for local radio stations Townsquare Media. In an announcement, Wilson, who serves as Townsquare Media’s executive vice president and chief digital officer, said the company has relaunched over 30 digital sites for local radio stations and plans to redo all of the company’s 171 radio station digital properties by the first quarter of 2011.
Michael Birch, the founder of online social network Bebo, who sold the company to AOL over two years ago for a spectacular sum, is linked up again to Bebo as an investor and advisor.
There’s been an exodus of reporters and editors leaving AOL News of late but today the company snaggeda new leader. Jonathan Dube has been named senior vice president and general manager of AOL News & Information heading up its news and content division which includes the tech, finance, and sports group. Dube will report in to David Eun, president of AOL Media & Studios.
AOL is losing more key writers and editors, including the head of AOL News. Mike Nizza the editor in chief of AOL News is decamping for News Corp. World editor James Graff is departing to take the managing editor position at The Week and James Burnett, AOL’s enterprise editor, left for Rolling Stone. Daily Finance Senior Writer Sam Gustin is headed to Wired.
Traditional media companies have spent the better part of two years trying to cope with the double whammy of recessionary forces washing away advertising revenue and the changing habits of consumers. So how do a bunch of young buck Internet companies see themselves ? As media companies!
AOL turned 25 today, prompting Chief Executive Tim Armstrong to make the rounds with co-founder Steve Case to celebrate the milestone. AOL has a colorful and much chronicled history, which we won’t go into detail here. What is most interesting to this reporter is not AOL’s past but rather its plan to pitch itself forward as a content company just at the point when traditional media — we’re looking at you newspapers – are undergoing wrenching operational changes.
It might seem obvious to most observers that AOL would want to cut its losses and get out of Bebo sooner rather than later, especially after it confirmed yesterday it was evaluating strategic options for the struggling business (ie shutting it down or selling it).