AOL Changes: Calacanis Finds The Exit; Alvey Stays

Less than 24 hours after he wrote on his blog that he had no comment on his future at AOL — and told listeners of his cold-hampered beta podcast that he’d take the weekend to think it over, Jason Calacaniswas out the virtual door, admitting finally to the NYT what he had been dodging everywhere else all day. (The interest in his decision was heightened by a series of tips to us and others that he had resigned. GigaOM, who like us received an anonymous tip, and TechCrunch posted early on. Jason writes that TC published first.)
The excuse at hand: this week’s unceremonious replacement of Jon Miller, who he says is a mentor, with NBCU exec Randy Falco. With Miller’s departure and the previous decision by Ted Leonsis to give up his operational role, two of the three people who brought him to AOL would be gone. (The third is Jim Bankoff, who is responsible for content and publishing.) But we’d already heard that Jason was planning an exit — one source who is not directly involved said he already has backing for a new venture. And, as someone familiar with the situation told me, “he’s an entrepreneur and everyone knew going into that this would be the outcome.” Indeed, his stay at AOL was longer than many would have predicted, largely because he was given the chance to do new things like revamp Netscape.
Jason arrived at AOL with Weblogs Inc. partner Brian Alvey but he’s leaving without him. Alvey — described to me as “the real genius” — is sticking around to fulfill his interest in building Blogsmith, the software the two just sold to AOL, as a platform. Also staying, Judith Meskill, promoted to COO of Weblogs Inc. earlier this year.
Alvey writes on his blog: “I’m a cynic and a bit of a burnout since things haven’t slowed down from startup mode since moving to AOL a year ago, so nothing really fazes me. I’m even a little optimistic: you’d hope that a guy with three decades at a major television network wouldn’t jump to AOL if it was a lost cause.”
And Jason moves on to the next new thing — or not. That’s the risk of being an entrepreneur. In the meantime, he can work on those podcasts.
Nick Denton: “So, what next? My guess: a rapid re-entry, with a well-funded venture in internet media, probably podcasting or wiki directories, judging by the topics Calacanis covers in his personal writing. He’ll be loud, infuriating — and probably, irritatingly, successful.”