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AOL chief Falco to be replaced by Google's Armstrong

Time Warner's struggling Internet unit saw revenue fall last year and announced Tuesday it would cut 10% of its workforce.

March 13, 2009|Alana Semuels

A high-ranking but relatively unknown Google Inc. executive will take the helm of AOL from television-industry veteran Randy Falco, Time Warner Inc. said Thursday.

Tim Armstrong, formerly head of Google's North American and Latin American advertising sales and operations, will take over as chief executive of Time Warner Inc.'s struggling Internet unit.

"Tim is the right executive to move AOL into the next phase of its evolution," Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said in a statement. "He's an advertising pioneer with a stellar reputation and proven track record."

Falco and Chief Operating Officer Ron Grant will leave AOL after a transition period, the company said. Its shares gained 12 cents in after-hours trading after the announcement. They had risen 41 cents to $8.32 in regular trading.

The tenure was short for Falco, a former NBC Television president who was a surprise pick to lead AOL in late 2006. Bewkes said then that Falco, who had worked at NBC for 31 years, had the "right tools" for AOL.

AOL has struggled of late, announcing Tuesday it would cut 10% of its workforce after slashing 20% in 2007. Time Warner said last month that AOL's revenue fell during the fourth quarter and for the year.

Pali Research analyst Rich Greenfield, who had been leading calls for AOL to replace Falco, called the move "a significant positive" and said he "never anticipated an executive of Tim Armstrong's pedigree" would agree to lead AOL.

Armstrong came to Google in 2000 from Snowball.com, where he was vice president of sales and strategic partnerships. He sits on the boards of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Advertising Council and the Advertising Research Foundation.

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alana.semuels@latimes.com

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