Kara Swisher

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Exclusive: Platform-A Head Coleman Out at AOL, as Well as CFO (and More to Come?)

[UPDATE: AOL confirmed our story below about Coleman’s departure and Levick’s appointment. See below.]

Platform-A President Greg Coleman–the former Yahoo advertising sales exec who came to AOL only three months ago–is leaving the company, sources said, as new CEO Tim Armstrong remakes his top staff in preparation to spin off the Time Warner (TWX) online unit.

Coleman was brought to AOL by former CEO Randy Falco in February, replacing Lynda Clarizio. But Falco was ousted two weeks after Coleman got there.

Armstrong, sources said, announced the moves to staff tonight, right after he told Coleman about his decision late today.

Coleman will be replaced by a Google ad exec, Jeff Levick, sources said, who had a close relationship with Armstrong when they were both working at Google (GOOG).

AOL said in a press release that Levick would become “President, Global Advertising and Strategy, a new and expanded role, in which he would be “responsible for Platform-A, AOL’s advertising business, as well as developing global revenue strategies.”

Levick will be the third major Google advertising exec to leave the company recently, after Armstrong himself and today’s departure of former DoubleClick boss David Rosenblatt.


Levick (pictured here) was a VP of industry development & marketing, the Americas. He has been at Google since 2001.

Also out: CFO Nisha Kumar, who came to AOL in early 2007 from Time Warner. She was told of the decision earlier, and there has been a search on for her replacement.

It is a time of much change at AOL. Yesterday, Time Warner reiterated its intent to spin off AOL in a regulatory filing, and to buy back the five percent stake Google owns.

Time Warner also had to deliver bad news about AOL’s disappearing ad revenue today in its quarterly earnings report. It was down 20 percent.

Its ad business has not been helped by the fact that AOL has seen a number of Platform-A heads roll over the last two years.

Coleman is an experienced online ad exec, who was at Yahoo (YHOO) for seven years, responsible for all advertising revenue worldwide. He came to Yahoo from Reader’s Digest.

But Coleman ran into Yahoo’s management buzzsaw after trouble hit the company in 2007. He was one of the first in a long line of execs to leave the troubled company, departing in one of its many controversial reorganizations.

But Yahoo’s ad business did grow strongly under him and former Yahoo ad exec Wenda Millard. She was also pushed out of Yahoo and just left her job as co-CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Before AOL, Coleman had been running a Los Angeles-based start-up called NetSeer, which focuses on ad targeting.

While at AOL a short time, Coleman had busied himself reshuffling the staff there in several moves.

He has a three-year contract, sources said, which AOL will presumably have to pay out on.

Here is the official AOL press release:


New York, NY–April 30, 2009–AOL announced that Jeff Levick will join the company as President, Global Advertising and Strategy. In this new and expanded role, Levick will be responsible for Platform-A, AOL’s advertising business, as well as developing global revenue strategies. Levick comes to AOL from Google, where he was most recently VP of Industry Development and Marketing, The Americas. He will report directly to AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong.

“Our goal at AOL is to create great content and products, as well as make our advertising offerings the best in the industry for marketers and we are putting together the strategy to achieve that. I’m delighted that Jeff will be coming on board to lead this effort,” Armstrong said. “I’ve worked with Jeff for more than seven years at Google, and he is absolutely the right person to drive growth in our premium ad sales, dramatically scale our Advertising.com business, and further develop AOL’s research initiatives and consumer insights.”

“This is a perfect time to join AOL and I firmly believe that AOL’s best days are ahead of it,” said Levick. “The company has one of the largest and most engaged audiences on the Web, some of the best advertising technology in the business, and a powerful third-party network. There is great opportunity here for us to capture.”

As a result of this change, Greg Coleman will be leaving Platform-A, where he has served as President since early February 2009.

“In only a short time, Greg made a strong imprint on Platform-A’s sales organization–reorganizing and refocusing the team,” said Armstrong. “I appreciate his efforts and know that they will contribute to the work that lies ahead with Platform-A.”

Levick will officially join AOL in the coming weeks. At Google, Levick was responsible for business marketing activities for the Americas as well as sales development and strategy for all of the vertical industries covered by Google’s Americas sales organization. Levick joined Google in 2001 and has held various executive management positions in the company’s advertising sales organization in both North America and Europe.

Prior to joining Google, Levick served as a corporate attorney with a specialty in mergers and acquisitions at the international law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman, and held roles at various online ventures in Chicago. He currently serves on the board of directors of Helium.com, the advisory board of the College of Communications at DePaul University and as an advisory board member of the global trade organization Search Engine Strategies (SES). Levick holds a J.D. from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree from New York University, where he graduated cum laude.