So much for heading right back to the start-up world… Digital ad vet Dave Morgan, who said he has left his AOL (NYSE: TWX) post of EVP-global advertising strategy to start a new business, instead will be chairman of The Tennis Company, Adweek reported. He also owns an unspecified minority stake in the company. As chairman of the publisher of Tennis and Smash magazines, Morgan plans to create a multi-platform entity aimed at tennis enthusiasts.
Morgan left AOL precisely three months after taking on the role of EVP. He founded RealMedia (which later became 24/7RealMedia and sold to WPP for $649 million) and co-founded behavioral targeter TACODA in 2001, which was sold to AOL for $275 million last summer. He became chairman of the company in July 2006, when he handed the CEO reins to Curt Viebranz, who became an AOL EVP and president of Platform A. After Morgan left, Viebranz was ousted following disagreements with AOL CEO Randy Falco and COO Ron Grant over which unit would manage ad sales tied to behavioral targeting — TACODA or Advertising.com — and differences over the pace of integration of the units.
— Enthusiastic about tennis, start-ups: Morgan tells Adweek that he’s become “a believer that surrounding enthusiasts with content, including advertising, means more than just surrounding them online. It means being their printed product, on the ground with events and part of their video experience wherever they get it.” He added that he felt the tennis market has not been “effectively aggregated. He says that he’s still interested in creating a start-up, but for now, his concentration will be devoted to The Tennis Company.
— Match point: I exchanged emails with Morgan last night and asked him to further explain his decision to join a traditional media company with tennis as its focus. He said the space offers a “great opportunity, particularly if you can amass a position with both online and offline media assets.”
*Morgan will be appearing on a panel at paidContent parent ContentNext Media’s EconAds Seminar on Tuesday afternoon.