Posted by: David Kiley on March 12, 2009
It isn’t often that a struggling company snares a new CEO, and my reaction is…”Whoaaaaaaa.” But that’s what I said upon finding out that AOL had nabbed Google’s Tim Armstrong, who has been Google’s most effective conduit with the ad world.
Armstrong has been on short-lists for other big jobs of late. Time-Warner AOL has hired him just as it moves to probably try and spin the Net service off to Wall Street.
I recall when AOL was the “it” brand. Everyone I knew was trolling AOL content, chat-rooms and using its IM service. Recently, I heard an analyst say that one of AOL’s most valuable assets is its base of users who are still on…..dial-up.
Yikes. That’s like saying that a strength of local TV stations are the people who are still on rabbit ear analog TV sets. Ooooooooh baby. The advertisers are drooling over those high rollers.
I haven’t frequented AOL in years. But when I go on from time to time, it’s a fairly miserable experience. It’s not social. Content is commodity. I’m curious to see how Armstrong can pump vitality and relevance into AOL when Google, Yahoo and MSN seem to have carved up search, and Facebook is running away with social networking.
Facebook is today what AOL was in the mid and late 1990s. And I’m not sure consumers are waiting with baited breath any more to see how AOL reinvents itself.
But if there was one guy who I’d bet on having the best idea about how to try and make it happen…it’s Armstrong.
As Google’s best salesman, he not only has been at the sharp end of virtually every new thing Google has tried in the last five years, but he has also been a very effective pitchman to advertisers, media companies and ad agencies.
AOL has gotten someone who will be listened to. And that is an important first step.