Time Warner appointed NBC executive Randy Falco as the new chairman and CEO of AOL, bringing a long-time television executive in to run the struggling online service.
Falco is currently president and chief operating officer of the NBC Universal Television Group. He replaces Jonathan Miller, who is leaving the company after four years at the head of AOL.
The change comes as AOL is going through a radical shift in services. This past July, AOL dropped the monthly subscription model that was fundamental to its business for years in favor of an ad-driven business model.
Falco has spent 30 years with NBC and has an extensive advertising background. He was involved in coordinating NBC’s coverage of the Olympics and refining NBC’s approach to selling advertising based on young, upscale viewers.
More important to AOL, he was integral in a drive to sell advertising on NBC’s Internet services, such as NBC.com and iVillage, the women-focused Web site NBC bought earlier this year for about $600 million.
AOL is off to a good start in its move to ad-driven survival. For the most recent quarter, the company saw a 46 percent increase in advertising while income slipped as customers transitioned off monthly fees.
Along with the economic transition, Falco will have his hands full with other issues. The company has been steadily losing subscribers and StopBadware.org, a group at Harvard Law’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, gave AOL 9.0 a thumbs down and advised consumers not to use it. (At the time of the report, in late August, AOL disputed the complaint. In fact, an AOL spokesman said installing AOL 9.0 is one of the best things users can do to protect themselves online).
Earlier this month, AOL purchased Relegance, a financial information company that aggregates custom information to customers based on their criteria.
Also today, AOL launched the latest version of its instant messenger client, AOL Triton.