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The reaction to the pending change at the top of AOL from Jon Miller to Randy Falco — rumored yesterday, confirmed today — is starting to come in. Not surprisingly, first up is Jason Calacanis, who, with partner Brian Alvey, sold Weblogs Inc. to AOL last year and software business BlogSmith just last week. Calacanis has been close to Miller and also to Ted Leonsis, the AOL vice chairman and veteran who had already announced his intention to give up his operating role at the company by the end of the year.
Calacanis: “Today was a very sad day for me. One of the few mentors I’ve had in my life, Jon Miller, was replaced as CEO of AOL. … I watched him masterfully turn around AOL firsthand. It was impressive considering when I got here the company was torn between the two business models (subscription and advertising), and a year later we were CRUSHING Yahoo’s growth rate and were second only to Google’s. It wasn’t easy to turn this huge ship around, but we did it thanks to Jon’s leadership. … Miller is not a brash self-promoting CEO, and maybe that worked against him a little. However, he turned this ship around and built a kick-ass team. The number(s) don’t lie. I don’t know why Jon is leaving, and frankly I’m not smart enough to figure out why a CEO would leave after posting the amazing numbers he did over the past three quarters, so I won’t even try and speculate.” As for his own future, writes Calacanis, “I’ve got nothing to say about that right now, so consider this an official ‘no comment.'”
FT: The FT picks up on one of TW’s favorite angles — that AOL is doing well enough to attract Falco. “Attracting Mr Falco, one of NBC’s most seasoned executives, could be a milestone in efforts to transform AOL from a declining internet connection business. ‘This move could allay concerns that AOL has had difficulty attracting key talent and is an indication that AOL’s improved prospects are getting more attention in the internet marketplace,’ said Aryeh Bourkoff, analyst at UBS.”
More to come.