AOL Introduces New Executive Team, Pledges Clearer Focus

By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Randy Falco, AOL's chief executive for the past few weeks, yesterday announced a new team of executives charged with running a "tighter, clearer and better focused" Internet firm.

The announcement followed a shake-up at the company last week, when about 450 employees were laid off and four senior executives abruptly announced their resignations.

In an e-mailed memo to employees, Falco addressed the turmoil at the Dulles campus but noted that he and handpicked Chief Operating Officer Ron Grant think management will be better focused on operations.

"AOL has just gone through elements of a significant reorganization, and I know that the departure of well-respected colleagues and friends is not easy for anyone here," wrote Falco, a former NBC executive who was brought in last month after Jonathan Miller was unexpectedly fired as AOL chief executive by parent company Time Warner.

The new structure dismantles the one put in place just months ago, dividing the multiple tasks managed by a few senior executives and assigning them to new leaders charged with more narrow roles.

Kevin Conroy, who formerly served as executive vice president of products, marketing and distribution, will focus only on products. Bill Wilson and Michael Kelly, two AOL executives who work from New York, will focus on programming and media networks, respectively. Kim Partoll will become responsible for paid services, which focuses on subscribers who pay AOL. Balan Nair will become chief technology officer.

All will report to Grant, whose previous job was senior vice president of operations at parent company Time Warner. Grant started at AOL in 1997 and served as senior vice president of business affairs and development there until moving to Time Warner after AOL bought it in 2001.

The changes come as AOL is executing a new business strategy that shifts toward online advertising revenue and away from membership fees. In August, AOL made its online services available for free through its Web site for those with high-speed Internet connections. Dial-up customers must still pay AOL for access.

Although many employees said they were sad to see some longtime leaders go -- departures Falco announced officially in his memo yesterday -- the new changes signaled clearer responsibilities for different segments of the business. Falco said in the memo that three other top jobs left empty -- in the marketing, international and platforms divisions -- would be filled soon.

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