By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 17, 2007
AOL said yesterday that its chief financial officer, Stephen Swad, plans to leave the firm for a position at a private-equity firm.
In an e-mail memo to employees, AOL chief executive Randy Falco said Swad was "ready for new and different challenges" after four years at the Dulles company. AOL declined to name Swad's new employer. Falco said in the memo that AOL planned to name a replacement for Swad soon.
Separately, AOL has begun to trim its workforce further by laying off a few dozen employees within different divisions at its Dulles headquarters, according to a source familiar with AOL's plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the layoffs had not been made public. The source said these layoffs had begun and would continue for the next several weeks but that the company had no plans for any larger reductions.
Swad, 45, follows a number of longtime AOL executives who left shortly after former chief executive Jonathan Miller was abruptly replaced by Falco late last year. Ted Leonsis, who headed the company's efforts to boost its audience for its free services, recently stepped down from that role, although he will remain vice chairman of the company. An executive in Europe and several other leaders of key divisions have also departed in recent months.
The management shifts also come as AOL tries to shift its focus from its legacy of Internet-access subscriptions to an advertising-based business. AOL has evolved from a subscriber-based service that connected people to the Web to an ad-supported model providing Internet content, such as e-mail and instant messaging, for free to consumers.
"Over the past four years as chief financial officer, Steve had done a remarkable job of steering AOL across challenging financial terrain," Falco wrote in the e-mail to employees. "During his tenure, AOL consistently hit or exceeded its financial targets, even while we were transforming our business in the face of a rapidly changing marketplace."
An AOL spokeswoman declined to comment on Swad's departure.
In addition to the ongoing layoffs, AOL completed a major layoff of nearly 600 employees locally and 5,000 worldwide in December as part of a major restructuring. Many of the other layoffs were at U.S. call centers or overseas positions. AOL employs about 4,000 people in Dulles.
Swad has spent the past nine years of his career at Time Warner, parent company of AOL. Before joining AOL, Swad served as executive vice president of finance and administration at Turner Entertainment Group. He also worked as vice president of financial planning and analysis at AOL Time Warner.