AOL TW Loses Pittman Amid Accounting Allegations

19 July 2002

In a busy day for AOL Time Warner, the media giant announced the resignation of one its top executives as it fought off allegations of improper accounting.

As expected, co-chief operating officer Robert Pittman decided to leave the company when his temporary spell at the head of ailing internet unit America Online – the company he helped found – comes to an end.

Pittman was parachuted into the online arm to reverse its fortunes. However, he has decided not to return to his post at the parent company when a new boss for AOL is found.

The resignation prompted a management reshuffle at the head of AOL TW widely perceived as a shift in power towards the ‘old media’ Time Warner companies purchased by AOL in 2000.

Chief executive Richard Parsons, of TW origins himself, appointed two executives with similar backgrounds to oversee the company’s diverse assets. Don Logan, previously chairman of Time Inc, will head the media group including AOL and Time Warner Cable, and Jeff Bewkes, former chairman of HBO, will take charge of entertainment properties such as music firms and television networks.

Meanwhile, AOL TW was forced onto the defensive by allegations in the Washington Post that it employed unorthodox accounting to boost its reported profit by $270 million (€266m; £171m) between 2000 and 2002.

The article accused the media giant of selling ads for eBay and posting the income as its own and shifting profits between divisions at America Online.

AOL TW dismissed the claims, claiming the story “was flawed in its facts and analysis and misleading in its conclusion.”

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff