Jon Miller joins me on the “AOL’s recently unemployed” list

I go away on vacation for a week and what news do I come back to? Jon Miller’s no longer CEO of AOL. I don’t want to say too much about this decision (Ted, Jason and Sree say plenty about it), but let me sum up my thoughts: they’re taking someone who proved his immense capability in three years of AOL’s most challenging times with someone who after 31 years only achieved #2 status at NBC. Draw your own conclusions.

Looks like I’m not alone in the “AOL’s recently unemployed” list. Jason Calacanis and Sree Kotay are also on it, now. The next few weeks will be very interesting to see who else is on it.

Update: Holly is also on the list. As of December 1, so will David Habib, apparently. Ryan Block suggests that Tina Sharkey is leaving AOL, too.

Update: December 14th brings more news: Carl Hutzler, Eric O’Laughlen.

Update: On January 13, 2007, C.K. Sample III announces his resignation from AOL, too.



  1. Well, first off I wouldn’t have been shocked if they’d given Miller the axe a year ago, but I was shocked that it happened now. He finally had a lot of really good things to show for his tenure at AOL, and I was cautiously optimistic largely because of what he’s accomplished in the past year, and his latest all-hands presentation, wherein he demonstrated the walk behind the talk.

    Unfortunately, that they chose someone from the Paleomedia to take his place tells me that all this talk about Web 2.0 is just that… talk. Jon Miller seemed sincere in his talk about embracing new and open technologies to do _new_ things, rather than just provide us with Hollywood gossip or other cultural Twinkies. I have a feeling though, with a bigwig from NBC… what have THEY contributed to popular culture recently, leave alone technology?… tells me that AOL isn’t really interested in pursuing Web 2.0 as they are in focussing on delivering the banality of existing mass media over computers.

    I could be wrong. Perhaps there are people at a level higher than technical manager for whom “long tail” is more than a hollow buzzword. Perhaps there are people at the director level and above who actually have the idea that if AOL is to survive it has to do more than regurgitate what everyone else did 2 to 5 years ago. I thought Jon Miller (and Maureen Govern, for that matter) were people like that. I believe there are many others.

    I hope this Falco guy is too. I hope he moved to AOL to get away from the technological, intellectual and cultural dead end that is broadcast television to embrace the opportunity to make AOL something that gets people excited, rather than the laughingstock of the literati of the Information Superhighway.

    AOL has made some great leaps in that direction, but it has only just begun. I hope it will continue, because the resources are there, talent is there, the expertise is there, and the will is there. The executives just need to utilize it, guide it and nurture it.

  2. First of all , there are many folks at the Technical Manager and below that have no clue what the long tail is, that get cold sweats when a LinkedIN invite comes across etc. I suspect that is the case in equal percentage to those at Director level and above who are somewhat uninformed about all that is going on the internet today.
    What made Maureen Govern as effective and impactful an executive as she was during her short tenure was not that she innately knew the long tail or Web 2.0 prior to coming to AOL. Wasn’t she from the Telecom industry afterall? Instead, it was her ability to broadly listen and select key folks throughout the company with the insight and skills in the areas we wanted to compete and win and then empower them to do their jobs.
    If the folks coming from the “Paleomedia” as you state have the same qualities as the previous CTO, then those are the qualities we need to have a fighting chance in the competitive space we find ourselves in.

  3. Yes it’s true Tina Sharkey left AOL, it was announced a couple weeks ago.

    Julio, in terms of Maureen knowing the long tail or Web 2.0, she got some very important facts mixed up about it (thinking Flickr made Technorati Tags), which makes me think if she innately knew it or not. But despite that, I think she was one of the first executives to push for AOL2.Open.

  4. Hey Dossy,

    That’s true I’m an ex-AOLer now — officially 2/15, but “Elvis has already left the room” (office?) :)

    BTW always meant to circle around and wish you well. I enjoyed working together on Web publishing infrastructure et al.

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