San Francisco -- Barely two months after being designated as AOL's new COO, Kimberley Partoll, as well as SVP of Search & Local head John Kannapel are quitting the company amid reorganization, as CEO Tim Armstrong is searching for ways to cut down the company's costs, according to multiple media reports.
Partoll's exiting is particularly surprising because Armstrong only named her as COO in July. According to a source familiar with the matter said the re-organization is meant to streamline management.
The move is part of a reorganization of AOL's executive entourage under the new CEO as he prepares the company to be spun off from Time Warner Inc. this year.
Partoll, who was EVP for access, business intelligence & new ventures, before being promoted in July to act as COO, was highly attributed with selecting ad agency “Leo Burnett” to revamp the AOL brand. An AOL vet, she literally just got the job as part of Armstrong's first-100-days review; in the memo announcing her promotion and a slew of other changes, Armstrong called her “an outstanding operating executive.”
Back when Tim promoted Partoll in July, he issued a company-wide memo in the following words:
Having proven herself an outstanding operating executive, Kim Partoll will take on the role of COO of AOL. In addition to continuing to expertly manage the Access business and the Business Intelligence group, Kim will focus on the “must haves” underlying each of the five strategic areas -- ensuring everything we do is global, mobile, data-specific and cost managed. Kim will oversee Access, Mobile, Business Development, Business Intelligence, Consumer and Brand Marketing and a new centralized Product Experience function, which will make sure all our products consistently meet standards for quality, globalization and platform reach, as well as tap employee innovation through a company-wide internal innovation program.
Partoll, who began her career at AOL in 2002, most recently oversaw the part of its business that charges consumers a fee for connecting to the Internet. She also was responsible for mobile initiatives, business development and marketing, and overseeing the recent hiring of Publicis Groupe SA's Leo Burnett USA ad agency.
Her varied responsibilities are being split:
- Mobile goes to Brad Garlinghouse, the former Yahoo exec who joined AOL as president of Internet and Mobile Communications last week;
- International will report directly to Armstrong;
- Access and business intelligence will be handled by new CFO Artie Minson;
- Marketing will report to Maureen Sullivan, Armstrong’s chief of staff, while the CMO search is being conducted.
John Kannapell, senior vice president of search and local media, also is exiting the company after his position was eliminated, the person said. Neither Partoll nor Kanapell could be reached for comment.
The blog AllThingsD reported that the two most likely would not be replaced, with their responsibilities being shared by other executives.
As for Kannapel's responsibilities, AOL Advertising head Jeff Levick will assume search, while former Patch CEO Jon Brod will take up local and mapping as part of running AOL Ventures, the catch-all unit that decides what operations fit and which does not.
Here is what Tim wrote about Kannapell:
Local & Mapping: I have asked John Kannapell, who has overseen AOL's search and local initiatives, to serve as acting head of Local & Mapping. Local is a white space area on the Internet and John has led large cross-functional teams to success at AOL. John is one of the most knowledgeable people in our industry on local, and we will be counting on him to execute our migration into a deeper principal position in local on the Internet.
Armstrong, who joined the Time Warner unit earlier this year and is prepping it for a spinoff that is supposed to happen by the end of 2009, does not plan on replacing either executive, say people familiar with the matter. Instead, their work will be divvied up among other Armstrong lieutenants.
Armstrong will be taking a “top-to-bottom stock” at what functions are duplicative and will seek to streamline costs. The process will continue through the fall as AOL gets closer to being spun out of Time Warner.
Armstrong has recruited a slew of new executives to AOL since he was hired in April to revive the company. They include leaders of its operations in finance, instant messaging and email, advertising and ventures, which houses new projects and acquisitions. The new team has its work cut out for it as AOL strives to change from a subscription-based service for connecting to the Internet to an ad-supported digital-media company.
The news was reported earlier by AllThingsD.com, a blog owned by Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal.