AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s move to make Google VP Jeff Levick the Time Warner (TWX) subsidiary’s president of global advertising sales and strategy is a bit of a “head-scratcher,” some of Jeff’s admirers at Google tell us.
They say Jeff is “a really smart guy,” a “pleasant person,” and a “hard worker,” who is “very on point.”
They say he isn’t really an ad sales guy — “by temperament and experience.”
Here’s what they mean:
- Jeff didn’t run a sales team at Google (GOOG), he ran a sales support team — a marketing organisation. The team had fewer than 100 people and it was primarily tasked with putting together reports for Fortune 500 companies showing the return on investment of Google advertising. Jeff’s team members would do custom studies with ComScore that split users into two groups, one half exposed to brand ads/search ads and one half not. The reports would then show “a lift in click through, conversions, purchases,” or whatever metric Google’s real, “meat-eating” sales force needed to make Fortune 500 companies feel comfortable about a big Google buy.
- Jeff’s personality isn’t sales-y. “Both by temperament and experience and by domain knowledge I just don’t see Jeff running a big media sales force, let a lone a very large organisation” says a source. “He’s not a really impressive big executive figure type like Armstrong or a Sheryl Sandberg,” says another. “He ran a marketing org. A sales org is much different. It’s all about getting people pumped up”
To be fair, Tim obviously knows all this about Jeff. He even told his charges he hired Jeff because he wants AOL to use more data when it sells.
So if Tim knows what Jeff isn’t, how does the new CEO plan to replace a backslapping, relationships-oriented guy like Greg Coleman? Maybe Tim figures he can be AOL’s salesman-in-chief and CEO at the same time.
During yesterday’s conference call to explain the move to Platform-A execs, Tim told them he was “happy to personally talk to customers or to help manage marketplace perception of this. I have relationships with a lot of senior agency and client people, major publishers on the Web.”
sceptics doubt Tim will have time to be both. In this view, the first real test for Tim’s strategy will be: can he find a new CFO to replace Nisha Kumar.
Here’s Jeff’s official bio from Google:
Jeff joined Google in 2001 and is responsible for marketing activities for the Americas, as well as sales development and strategy for the 10 vertical industries covered by Google’s America’s sales organisation. As an early Googler, Jeff has held various executive management positions within the company’s advertising sales organisation in both North America and Europe.
Prior to joining Google, Jeff served as a corporate attorney with a specialty in mergers and acquisitions at the international law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman, as well as held roles at various online ventures in Chicago. He currently serves on the board of directors of Helium.com, the advisory board of the College of Communications at DePaul University and as an advisory board member of the global trade organisation Search Engine Strategies (SES).
Jeff holds a J.D. from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree from New York University, where he graduated cum laude.