AOL just ousted Lynda Clarizio in favour of former Yahoo Greg Coleman. AOL is spinning this as the replacement of an average third-baseman with A-Rod.
What’s the reality?
We’ve now spoken to three sources — an AOL exec, a former Yahoo exec, and a Google exec — for some background. All asked to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorised to talk.
Here’s what we learned:
- The hiring went like this: Greg Coleman is friends with AOL CEO Randy Falco. After reading all about AOL’s MediaGlow push, Greg told Randy that he was looking for a gig. Randy pounced.
- Making an analogy to the Yankees third baseman and future Hall Of Famer, our source said that to AOL execs, Greg is A-Rod. They know bringing him on will unsettle some people on the team, but our source asks: “do you let that stop you from making the decision to hire a guy who took Yahoo from $600 million to $6 billion?” AOL’s answer is “no.”
- At AOL, Lynda continues to be admired for her work combining AOL’s various ad sales forces under Platform-A, but she’s out of a job today because people feel the display side hasn’t been growing at a pace commensurate with AOL’s audience growth. “The reality is we’ve been underperforming the market,” says our source. “Coleman has an expertise and his background is exactly what we’re indexing”
- AOL didn’t bring Greg in to make make “dramatic changes” to the sales organisation as Lynda leaves it. He’s more there because he “brings a client and brand solution.”
- Not everyone’s a fan. Our source at Google says Greg is the “opposite of Clarizio, who’s very smart.” To our source, Greg is just a “big-company, big-staff, stuffed shirt.”
- A former Yahoo exec — one that counts himself a fan of Greg’s — doesn’t reject that view, but he says whether or not Greg is a lawyerly genius like Lynda isn’t really the point. He says, “I think smarts can be definitely overrated when it comes to sales. Not to say that they’re dumb, but that’s not what separates a great sales person from ther others. You gotta push push and push to close the fucking deal.”
- Greg has a “gold-plated rolodex” and he’s “a real sales guy,” says his old Yahoo colleague. “Greg is the kind of guy that the sales organisation will like. They’ll look to him as one of them who knows what they do. I think he’ll be a popular leader there.”