New CEO Reshuffles Top Echelon at AOL Time Warner

28 May 2002

True to the old adage, the new broom at AOL Time Warner, Richard Parsons, has started his clean sweep following a weekend-long meeting of the board of directors.

Parson, who stepped into the chief executive role only last week [WAMN: 17-May-02] lost no time in reshuffling the top management deck, with senior financial, personnel and communications bosses the first to feel the wind of change.

The latter in particular was fixed in Parsons’ sights, having recently made it clear that he looks for a marked improvement in the group’s communications strategy. He would not be pleased at any repetition of last year’s debacle when the group was forced to execute a sharp U-turn over its much-hyped promises of sales and profit growth.

Ken Lerer, previously the overseer of AOL TW’s media and investor communications, has been sidelined into a curious new entity, the ‘office of the ceo’, comprising Lerer and chief operating officer Robert Pittman. Responsibility for communications is handed to Time Warner communications veteran Ed Adler who will share the hot seat with John Martin – respectively responsible for media relations and financial relations.

Lerer and Pittman together – longstanding buddies and effectively the management team that grew AOL before its merger with Time Warner two years ago – will focus on the resuscitation of the internet division. The new role handed to Lerer, says Parsons, “formalises what Kenny has already been doing for the company”.

Parsons and chairman Steve Case have also initiated the new twin roles of 'administrative chief of staff', with Bill Raduchel and Bob Kimmitt, respectively responsible for technology and global and strategic policy. The appointments are designed to “strengthen the ties” between chairman and chief executive

According to Parsons, this first round of moves, based on a three months’ strategic review (presented to the board over the weekend), is intended to slim the corporate structure. It is seen as the first stage in unravelling various partnerships – internal and external.

Whether this nifty juggling act will help restore investors’ confidence in the faltering giant remains to be seen. AOL TW’s shares have fallen by 41% since the turn of the year and now languish 65% below their twelve months high.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff