AOL Reacts To Tim Armstrong's Call And Moves

AOLers listened eagerly to Tim Armstrong’s conference call a few hours ago, in which he discussed booting sales boss Greg Coleman and bringing in Googler Jeff Levick.

We thought Tim did a good job on the call.  The listener who sent us the note below did not. 

Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments below.

One reaction we just received:

My key take-aways:

1. Underwhelmed.  He came off as less than prepared.  This was a call to notify and take questions about Coleman leaving and Levick coming in.  Instead, Tim seemed to be tentative and less than demonstrative.  Lots of “uh’s”  He did not sound like a leader or buttoned up CEO with a plan.  He speaks in generalities without specifics or time-tables.  “I’ve known Coleman for years and have a lot of respect for him.”  But no reason for his decision to dump Coleman.  Came off as pandering to the listeners.

2. No Levick on the call!  No mention as to when he would be coming on board, visiting the offices etc.

3. No run-down on what Levick had really done at Google and how that translated into his qualification for the AOL job.  Just that he was a strategy guy, whatever that translates to, and would work with the existing AOL sales management folks to make everything better.

4. Said several times he was not tying to make AOL into a Google or words to that effect.  Duh!  But his first hire is a Google guy!

5. No real assurance that more staffing changes would not be made….what everybody wants to be assured about. “Hope changes will be the last for a long time”  Three months for Coleman?  No reasons given as to why they should believe him or feel comfortable with that vague statement.  Does he think people will not figure it out that a new guy coming in will make more changes?  This is only the latest version of a song that has been sung at AOL since 2000.

6. No specific goals he wants to shoot for over the next 90 days or for 2009….just making AOL “number 1 with a clear strategic direction”.  Number 1 what?  What strategic direction?  AOL’s biggest problem is consistent execution on any strategy.  Overtake Google or Yahoo?  Never said.  Again, just generalities.

7. Typical BS about “we have a strong and great team”…”great days are ahead” but no specifics as to how that was going to be accomplished.

8. Mentioned that after visiting that they told him it took between six and 13 back-end systems to get campaigns up and running and that was too much.  Another Duh!  Falco, Grant, Curt and Linda all said the same thing, everyone promises to fix or streamline that problem but no one does.  These internal problems are well known within the ad community and have been for years.  Tim spoke as though it was a surprise to him these issues existed.  Made him sound very ignorant of what has been going on with a major competitor of as well as a partner of Google.

9. Some kiss-arse asked Tim why AOL could not buy small companies with cool technology that could be grown, “the way Google does” instead of spending big bucks for big companies.  Apparently the guy was not aware of DoubleClick and YouTube.  Armstrong answered somewhat animated and recounted how he was involved with the DoubleClick integration and how he met last Tuesday in SF with an angel investor who specialised in such companies and that he planned to recruit from Stanford, MIT etc. for such companies.  Believes that college types are coming up with ways to monetise their ideas compared to the past.  Duh!  They all see Zuckerberg as their idol to make a pile of cash before 25.  That is their idea of monetization.

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