RealTime IT News

AOL Restructuring Exec Suite Around Privacy

As part of its previously-announced plans at a reorganization around a free service, AOL is adding a new senior-level executive, a Chief Privacy Officer.

The news comes from an email sent to AOL employees by CEO Jon Miller and obtained by internetnews.com. In the lengthy (2,800 words) missive, Miller discusses the changes that will take place as AOL shifts from a fee-based service to a free one.

An AOL spokesperson wouldn't say whether the new position was created in response to the embarrassing revelation of user search records in August.

The release of the user search info resulted in three people losing their jobs, including CTO Maureen Govern.

The company already has someone with a similar title and responsibility. Tatiana Platt is currently the Chief Trust Officer and has served as a senior executive for security and privacy at the company for some time. There is no word on who will take the job.

Miller wrote that the current organization of the company around four business units -- Access, Audience, Digital Services, and AOL Europe -- served the company well "but no longer reflects what we are doing. Starting last month, our whole company became an 'audience' business."

Smaller, more nimble product groups with more authority and greater accountability will replace the four large business units. Product leaders will become general managers who will have more responsibility for product technology and development, but also be held to greater responsibility for the results, wrote Miller.

It's all done to move toward a single business model and mission.

"It should be clear that one, very positive thing that has changed here is that AOL today has only one strategy, and it supports our singular mission - to serve the world's largest and most engaged community. We no longer have conflict among multiple business models, wherein the resources and messages designed to support our "Access" business compete and, in some cases, negate the resources and messages meant to support our "Audience" business," he wrote.

He also addressed some executive changes within the company. The most significant move will see Randy Boe, general counsel for the company, moving to a new role overseeing a unit dedicated to aspects of how AOL interacts with and protects consumers.

This is being done in conjunction with the Chief Privacy Officer hiring and was done in response to the search data revelation, said Miller. A new general counsel will be appointed shortly.

Earlier this month, Ted Leonsis, vice chairman and president of AOL Core Services, announced he would be relinquishing day-to-day management responsibilities in January 2007. Some of his direct reports will now report to Miller.

Joe Redling, chief marketing officer, will take on three new, key initiatives -- international businesses, mobile technologies, and managing consumer relationships.

A new international structure will be in place soon, with European executives reporting to American executives. AOL also said new executives are being hired for projects in North and South America, as well as India and other Asian markets.