AOL, Bebo President Joanna Shields Part Ways (MEMO)


People Networks president Joanna Shields is leaving AOL “to reunite her family and explore her entrepreneurial interests,” writes CEO Tim Armstrong in a memo we’ve pasted below.

Joanna came to the company as CEO of social network Bebo, which the Time Warner (TWX) online subsidiary acquired for $850 million in March 2008.

AOL way overpaid for Bebo and everyone — including most AOLers — immediately knew it. Some of them also knew Joanna negotiated the deal. This may have made for a difficult working environment.

Earlier this year, AOL reorganized into three groups — Platform-A, Mediaglow and People Networks — and put Joanna in charge of People. But new CEO Tim Armstrong prefers a more streamlined management structure.

Here is Tim’s memo:

Team –

We’re now near the half-way mark of our 100 Day Plan, and we’re making good progress in putting together the details behind the strategic priorities I talked with you about two weeks ago. I’m looking forward to speaking to you more about this later this week at a company All-Hands on Friday.

In the meantime, I want to update you on some organizational news. Joanna Shields has decided to step down from her role as President of People Networks/EVP of AOL and return to London to reunite her family and explore her entrepreneurial interests. At her core, Joanna is a start-up executive, having taken numerous companies through the process of rapid growth and acquisition.

Following the company’s acquisition of Bebo last year, where Joanna served as chief executive, she moved to New York to help AOL unlock the value of our social assets and re-establish AOL as a leader and innovator in the area of social networking and communications–two areas this company pioneered. The result was numerous innovations in AIM and ICQ, the launch of Socialthing, along with continued upgrades to Bebo. I’m happy to say that Joanna will continue to serve as an advisor to the company working with our acquisitions and new ventures, so while we won’t be seeing her on a daily basis, she will remain an important member of the AOL family.

Joanna is a very strong and well-known entrepreneur and has been a very valuable member of our executive team. Please join me in thanking Joanna for her many contributions and wishing her safe travels as she moves her family back to London –TA

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