Kara Swisher

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AOL International Head Out: Rejiggering Commences!

Yahoo’s not the only place BoomTown gets internal corporate memos from!


Here’s two about big changes in AOL’s international–such that it is–unit, as the head of it–Maneesh Dhir (pictured here)–moves on.

A longtime staffer at the Time Warner (TWX) unit will “return to his entrepreneurial roots,” according to a memo from AOL CEO Randy Falco below.

Dhir has been based in India since his appointment several years ago. He came to AOL from its acquisition of Netscape in 1999.

And, in another memo from AOL President Ron Grant (also below), it looks like MediaGlow President Bill Wilson will get most of the goodies from Dhir, with all of international publishing reporting to him now, such as AOL Europe’s Dana Dunne.

(I could tell you endless stories about when AOL first entered the European market–former head Steve Case tried and failed to get to get the Europe Online moniker–but that would make you realize just what a digital antique I am.)

Here are the Falco and Grant memos:

From: Randy Falco
To: ADTECH Global; Platform-A Europe; Intl Employees; US Employees
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 9:01:13 PM
Subject: Organizational Announcement

Dear AOL colleague,

I’m writing to tell you that Maneesh Dhir, head of our international efforts, has decided that after 10 long and fruitful years with AOL, it’s time to start the next chapter in his career.

Since coming to the company in 1999 as part of AOL’s Netscape acquisition, Maneesh has made many important contributions to AOL. Most recently, of course, he was instrumental in the growth of AOL’s presence worldwide. Under his leadership, AOL went from a company with a consumer presence in just four countries outside the U.S. to one that is now in 38 countries–including India–in less than two years. Maneesh was also a key advocate for the rebuilding of our product development efforts so we could more effectively and efficiently launch products worldwide.

Just as important, Maneesh helped us learn the benefits of tapping into a worldwide pool of talent. It was his idea to open an AOL call center in Bangalore in 2002, which quickly became our largest. Two years later, he pushed for the creation of the Bangalore Development Center and the Bangalore Knowledge Center–important centers for technology, finance, analytics and shared services that are now part of the AOL India operations.

Thanks to these and many other accomplishments, we are now well positioned for global growth in all three of our key businesses–MediaGlow, Platform-A and People Networks–as well as our Products & Technologies division.

Having done all this, Maneesh told me he’s ready to return to his entrepreneurial roots. He’ll be staying on for a couple of months to help ensure a smooth transition. There will be subsequent information outlining organizational changes coming shortly.

Please join me in thanking Maneesh for all he’s done for AOL and wishing him the very best on his future endeavors.


From: Ron Grant
To: ADTECH Global; Platform-A Europe; Intl Employees; US Employees
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 9:05:37 PM
Subject: Organization Update

Dear AOL colleague,

I want to join Randy in thanking Maneesh Dhir for his outstanding contributions to AOL. I’ve known Maneesh for years, and he’s always been a tireless champion of AOL and of our global ambitions. I’m proud of all that he and his team have accomplished.

With Maneesh’s decision to return to his entrepreneurial roots, we’re taking the opportunity to make organizational changes that will build on the progress he and our international team have achieved.

Our next step is to more closely align and centralize our global publishing efforts under the newly formed MediaGlow business unit, headed by Bill Wilson. Over the last year, we have grown the MediaGlow audience dramatically through our highly efficient content development model. We believe that a more centralized infrastructure will enable us to accelerate MediaGlow’s global growth.

As a result, Dana Dunne, who oversees our European publishing business, will now report directly to Bill. In addition, our publishing businesses in India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada will all report in to MediaGlow.

We are also aligning our global technologies and search organizations under Ted Cahall. With this move, our AOL India operations led by Philip Nelson will now report in to Ted, as will Bill McGrath, who heads our ASA team and also oversees the International development team in Bangalore. Ponnapa PG will now report to Phil, who will be working with his team to finalize the India realignment over the next few weeks. Lastly, Joe Arcuri is leaving AOL Canada and his direct reports will be aligned with their counterparts in New York and Dulles.

Please join me in thanking Maneesh for his many contributions and wishing him well.