Notes From AOL CEO Armstrong's Call With Platform-A Executives


We listened to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s conference call with Platform-A executives this morning. During the call, Tim explained why he decided to bump Greg Coleman from the division’s top spot and replace him with ex-Googler Jeff Levick.

Our general take-away is that Tim wanted less of a sales-y relationships guy in the role and more of a research report-writing, data and analytics-driven wonk.

Here are our notes. We’ve bolded the stuff we think is extra noteworthy. Everything but words actually bracketed by quote marks are a close paraphrase of what Tim said:

Hey platform A-ers, it’s Tim, I’m in Lancaster PA at Mapquest office. Wanted to communicate directly with you guys.

I’m very very sentitive about rotations happening over the years.

I know there has been a lot of change, wanted you guys to know that I’m hoping announcement we made this morning the last announcement for a long period of time in terms of Platform-A leadership and ad leadership. I’ve known Greg Coleman for many years, respected everything he’s done. Other things he’s done.

The final piece of very clear strategic direction in terms of what we’ll be able to do with the company is to bring somebody in Jeff as a person is a very good person. Very accountable person.

The combination of a strategic direction and having Jeff on board is important building block for us as a character and really as a company.

I’ve heard some comments and questions but wanted to hear from you guys on the phone.

“One thing I want to be crystal clear about: I’m not here to recreate Google”

Many areas where AOL can be more successful, we’ll have to work together ad leadership team to get there.

AOL is a company that has a tremendous amount of insights both across access business, Web business, search, MediaGlow, mapquest, ets.

[If we can] piece together strategic insights, basically listing products very, very deep insightful relationship with advertisers, not only delivery high scale high ROI, but how do we get in boardrooms of fortune 500 companies, and provice them enough value that their first choice for ads is AOL.

I also just wanted to say thank you. I got to talk to Platform A management team, and other than being mature group of leaders, seem to be people who have… didnt’ hear anything other than that people wanted to be very successful at advertising.

Today’s announcements all focused on being as strong as we can be in the future. 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.

Happy to pick up the phone and call. Very excited today, looking forward to having Jeff join us, working with you guys to make AOL as successful as we can.

[Q&A Session:]

John Corrigan: We want to build great products, but we’ve done that through acquisitions and those acquisitions have been very costly. Have there been talks about buying companies before they get expensive?

Tim: Three issues related to that are very important.

Integration. My guess is, I don’t know how long it takes 6 and 13 systems that we have to go into today to manage a campaign because of things we’ve bought. My guess is we’re sending multiple bills to customers. Before we buy anything new we have to integrate.

[We also need to] build [systems] ourselves. We have very valuable engineers in the company now who probably have very good ideas. Don’t need to buy external things.

How do we actually not be in the place where we’re in a multimillion dollar bidding war for ad systems. I think we’d like to be in a position where we have close relationships with the engineering communities. That starts at universities. We’ll have close relationships with VC and angel funders. I had breakfast with one of the largest angel funders in the valley this week. (Ron Conway?).

Will Jeff’s role be larger than Platform-A? “One of the areas I want to have our advertising business think about more is the research and marketing strategy area.” The way I would highlight Jeff’s role is between Mark and Eric and Don and all the people on the senior management team. From a strategy and research standpoint what are the things we can deliever. I dont’ know if there’s anyone connecting the commerce stuff that’s happing on Mapquest from an ecosystem point of view. I would like Jeff’s role to be breaking down some of the silos. “How do we arm our advertising business with the strongest data and analytics possible.” I am firm believer that people like to buy adveritsing from people they trust and like. “The trust and like part added with really significant data is a really killer combination.”


“I’m very senstive about the amount of rotations at Platform-A. I want you guys to know that any changes are 100% about making the people on this phone the most competitive and armed with the deepest insights.”

If you have more questions or comments email me directly: [Redacted]

Photo: chrisdlugosz

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