I was out of town when Lynda got the boot, now I am out of town when Randy and Ron get the boot. While generally, as someone who loves working for AOL, I don’t want to say a lot, I do want to say a little to put my unique perspective on the truckloads of organizational changes going on at AOL. Let me caveat this with the fact that I had one conversation with Jon Miller during his time here and have not had a single interaction with Randy and Ron ever. I have never spoken with Mike Kelly or Curt Viebranz. I have interacted extensively with Lynda Clarizio during her time running Ad.com/Platform-A, but probably interacted more with the Ferbers/Steve Root during their time running the organization. This is an insider giving you an outsiders perspective, hence my comfort with talking about these issues.
- Tim Armstrong is a stud. I met him 5 years ago and thought he was an absolute stud. I think a sales leader can’t just drive to numbers but also needs to have a strong marketplace vision. This is one of the things I loved about Mike Peralta during his time with Platform-A sales. A vision allows someone to have a senior relationship with people on the agency side that is more than just a periodic game of golf. Tim definitely fits that bill. Having said that, this is a very different business than Google and outside of search – the greatest business ever – Google had precious few successes.
- What was going on with Randy and Ron? Their emails over the last few weeks announcing that Greg’s addition to the Platform-A team was the final step in their “3-year turnaround plan” was rightly maligned in the media as a test in random outcomes. How could Jeff ignore that? No one would say that “Hiring and firing Curt in 6 months, promoting then firing Lynda in a year, and hiring Greg” was all part of a plan. The moral was that their 2 year plan had not worked, hence drastic change.
- I have said for years that Jon Miller had a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” moment at AOL. When he began the move to an advertising supported AOL, the result was sure to be a financial apocalypse. If he hadn’t done it, he would have been fired for slowly letting the business fall apart and not pushing in the right strategic direction. The fact that he did it also ensured he would be fired eventually. Lynda had a similar period at AOL. Mike Kelly, in the big scheme of things, was probably fired because he needed to integrate the two sales forces. He didn’t, so they brought in Curt. Curt didn’t either, so he gets canned. Lynda promptly integrates the sales force and then the sales force misses the numbers. This is probably typical sales force re-org experience. I hope she finds a great landing because she did a nice job.
- Organizations need great players. I have always felt that football coaches were over-rated. A good coach helps, but they never get too far without solving the QB problem. A lot of this is noise. To be successful, people need to execute. I remember reading a book about an ibanker analyst during the tech boom. He drove around looking for full parking lots late at night and used that to predict winners. Winners are not the best CEO’d companies. Winners are the ones working harder than everyone else.
I know I could not be more stoked about the work that New Product Development is doing at Platform-A. The launch of BidPlaceSB.com, demonstrating some of the technology soon to be unleashed on the world in the form of BidPlace, is a great example of the kind of activity that is really going to move the needle.
Speaking of, if you want $200 off your first BidPlaceSB campaign, use the promo code: “SBStart09”. Free money!
Anyway, I am at SXSW. Email me if you want to hang out. I tried following the #sxsw hash tag, but it is getting like 20 new tweets a minute and I get carsick at that kind of speed.