Despite a concerted effort by Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), Randall Rothenberg is leaving his new job as chief digital officer to return to his job heading the Interactive Advertising Bureau, paidContent has learned. Rothenberg was hired away from IAB by Jack Griffin, who was ousted by Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes late last week after less than six months on the job.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Rothenberg resigned this morning and his departure will be announced shortly. He is leaving on good terms.
Update: The IAB, which spent months looking for a replacement, has announced Rothenberg’s return as president and CEO. Rothenberg led the industry group for four years before taking the job as chief digital officer and EVP at Time Inc. The same press release underscores Time Inc’s commitment to IAB — plus some sweetner, including funding for an “upcoming cross-industry measurement initiative” and charter sponsorship of the upcoming IAB Ad Lab.
Time Inc. has no plans to replace Rothenberg. The thinking is something like this: he could make the role work but it’s not clear it makes sense to put someone else in there given the strength of the current digital leaders like recently promoted Fran Hauser and John Cantarella. Rothenberg had a very small operation — two direct reports — and told me earlier this month he planned to rely on a digital leadership council to work with the units and publications.
Meanwhile, here’s the memo that just went out to the whiplashed Time Inc. staff from the committee of three running the publisher until a new CEO is appointed, which also takes great pains to stress how much they wanted Rothenberg to stay:
FROM: Howard Averill, Maurice Edelson and John Huey
RE: Randall Rothenberg
Randall Rothenberg informed us today that he has accepted an offer to return to the Interactive Advertising Bureau as its President and Chief Executive Officer.
Randall joined us a month ago as our first Chief Digital Officer and moved quickly to develop relationships and coordinate opportunities across Time Inc. We considered him a valued and collegial member of our management team and hoped he would stay.
Randall’s departure will be mitigated by his assurances that he will continue to work closely with Time Inc.
“Time Inc. is a valued member of the IAB, and as I return to that industry leadership role, I look forward to helping the teams here as you continue your digital transformation,” Randall said today. “I was attracted to Time Inc. by its fantastic brands and terrific people, and believe that the company is well positioned to take advantage of the digital revolution in media and marketing.”
Getting to know Randall better has been a great benefit to Time Inc., and partially as a result we are redoubling our commitment to the IAB. We are pleased to announce that Time Inc. will become a charter sponsor of the association’s new IAB Ad Lab and of the IAB’s important cross-industry measurement standardization initiative, where we will take an advisory board seat. We also will continue our participation on the IAB’s Board of Directors and on its Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence. These positions will give the company and our executives access to the best thinking in the industry.
We wish Randall the best at the IAB.
More to come.