AOL CEO Armstrong: Why I Fired Ad Sales Boss Greg Coleman (MEMO)


Here’s AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s memo to employees explaining why he replaced Platform-A president Greg Coleman with ex-Googler Jeff Levick after Greg was on the job for less than three months:

AOLers —
Since joining AOL, my focus has been on clear communication and putting our employees first.  There are some leadership changes I want to share with you this morning.  It is important that all of you have the right information.

To clarify some of what has been reported, Nisha Kumar has decided to leave the company. This was news we were going to share with employees next week when we could take a moment and celebrate the many accomplishments that Nisha has made to this organisation. Nisha will be staying on for a few months while we conduct a search for her replacement.

As Chief Financial Officer for the past two-plus years, Nisha has done a remarkable job of steering the company through some very difficult financial waters, through 12 acquisitions, $2 billion in cost savings, and through significant real estate consolidations, while at the same time markedly improving our financial systems. She has been effective and trusted partner to the business unit teams during a time of significant transition, and an important partner to me during my first month here.

I’m grateful to Nisha for all of her contributions to the organisation, and look forward to continuing to work with her during this transition period and I am actively working with her to see if we can keep her in an executive role within our company.

The second leadership change is connected to Platform-A. Growing our ad business is critical to our success, but AOL has struggled in this area for a while now. We live in a competitive ad marketplace and we need a clear strategic direction that will set us on the right course. 

Jeff Levick will be coming on board as President, Global Advertising and Strategy, a new and expanded role that will encompass Platform-A. In this new position, Jeff will be responsible for the development and execution of our global revenue strategies.

 Greg Coleman will be stepping down as head of Platform-A. I want to thank Greg for all his important contributions to the business. In the short time he’s been with us, he’s made a strong imprint on Platform-A’s sales organisation – reorganising and refocusing the team. I appreciate all his efforts and know they will contribute to the work that lies ahead.
I’m sensitive to the fact that this organisation has had many changes in recent years, but with Jeff’s appointment I intend to stabilise our ad business for the long term.
This business is about scale. It’s about both selling the inventory on AOL’s owned and operated sites with great insights and rapidly expanding the scale of our network. It’s about investing in data, research and consumer insights that make what we do so valuable to our customers. It’s about finally and fully integrating all of our ad technologies.
And no one is better equipped than Jeff to make progress on these goals and this strategy. Jeff and I worked together at Google for many years, where he was responsible for leading the industry-focused sales team and running strategy for Google Americas multi-billion dollar sales organisation.  Jeff spent two years in Europe helping to structure the international industry strategy. He also led marketing activities for the Americas, as well as Google’s Agency partnerships.
Jeff will start in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I ask that everyone directly and indirectly involved in our advertising efforts stay focused on our goals and continue to deliver great results for our partners.
We want to make our advertising business the most competitive on the planet over the next 24 months, and Jeff has the skill set to drive us to that outcome.  

Please join me in welcoming Jeff to the AOL family, and in thanking Greg for his efforts as a leader at AOL and across our industry. Lastly, please also join me in thanking Nisha for her work on behalf of the company during this period of transition.  We’ll see some of you in Lancaster this morning and Toronto this afternoon as we launch Platform-A Canada.   – TA

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