It is official…. I’ve got no comment for now.
… but I will have something to say shortly.
Time Warner Names
NBC’s Falco to Lead AOL
The early success of AOL’s recent strategy shift has made it easier to attract someone of Mr. Falco’s caliber to the online business, company insiders say. Mr. Falco, 52 years old, will succeed AOL Chief Executive Jonathan Miller, 50. Mr. Miller has run AOL for more than four years, overseeing its rocky relationship with Time Warner and guiding the AOL ship through a period of upheaval in the rapidly changing digital world.
The management change comes at a tricky time for the online company. AOL is in the midst of implementing a radical new strategy to offer its service free to generate more revenue from advertising. Time Warner says it is pleased with the early returns from its new business model. But the plan to abruptly change AOL’s senior executive appears to indicate that Time Warner wants someone with a more aggressive management style to execute the new strategy.
Mr. Falco, who was in the running to get the top job at NBC Universal Television Group last year but lost out to Jeff Zucker, has spent more than 30 years at the network, most recently as chief operating officer. In that role, Mr. Falco oversaw Spanish-language network Telemundo, the NBC-owned television stations and NBC’s sales units. Though he has never run an Internet company like AOL, Mr. Falco does have extensive experience in the advertising business, AOL’s new lifeblood. Over the years, he has been instrumental in coordinating NBC’s coverage of the Olympics and refining NBC’s approach to selling advertising based on young, upscale viewers.
He also recently oversaw a major drive to sell advertising on NBC’s various new-media platforms, including NBC.com and iVillage, the women-focused Web site NBC bought earlier this year for about $600 million. News of Mr. Falco’s likely move was reported in the New York Times.
A cornerstone of AOL’s strategic makeover has been to draw in users with more programming content, in particular, video. One of Mr. Falco’s main tasks will be to continue that push, drawing on his long experience as a network-television executive to turn AOL’s video portal into a major destination. Mr. Falco recently directed NBC’s effort to distribute video from the network to the Web.
NBC Universal is unlikely to replace Mr. Falco, people close to the company said. Instead, the network will likely divvy up his duties among other executives. An NBC Universal spokesman declined to comment.
Mr. Miller’s likely departure comes after months of speculation inside and outside the company that he would be pushed out. Time Warner senior management repeatedly denied the rumors. Earlier this month, for example, Time Warner Chief Executive Richard Parsons told analysts that Mr. Miller was doing a “terrific job.”
Indeed, AOL’s new strategy seemed to be working. The unit posted a 46% jump in advertising revenue in the third quarter, taking share from rivals such as Yahoo Inc.