Updated: Ellis Jumps To Yahoo; AOL Re-Orgs

Updated: Mark Ellis is leaving AOL (NYSE: AOL) to join Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) to run North American sales, paidContent has heard from multiple sources. The news was broken by AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher, who noted that Ellis previously worked with Yahoo’s current U.S. ad sales head Wayne Powers when the latter was president of the Media Group at Time. A source told paidContent that Ellis will be working under Powers in his new post.

Original post: AOL ad sales vet Mark Ellis is leaving the company as it prepares to unify the existing sales team with that of the Huffington Post. The moves come as AOL’s $315 million acquisition of HuffPo is set to close. Over the next 90 days, AOL will be integrating HuffPo “sellers” into its regional teams, according to a staff memo by AOL global ad sales head Jeff Levick.

In addition to the regional sales moves, Levick wrote that AOL is expanding the roles of “three of our star field generals – Tim Richards, Wendy McGregor, and Tim Castelli.” This trio will lead the sales for AOL and the Huffington Post Media Group and report directly to Levick. The purpose is to move them into “a more central role in AOL’s revenue strategies and management,” he said.

As for Ellis, he joined AOL when it began to formulate its plan to turn itself from being an internet access provider to an online ad sales giant. He joined AOL in early 2004 as VP of the Detroit Region. He was then given responsibility for the Central Sales Division, the Eastern Sales Division and the Vertical and Product Sales teams.

Ironically, Ellis’ last big promotion at AOL came in April 2009 under Greg Coleman, who was shortly president of AOL’s Platform-A advertising sales umbrella. At that time, Ellis was given an expanded role of EVP of sales. Coleman had chosen Ellis to be his primary adviser at AOL.

Shortly after, bigger changes emerged at AOL. Coleman was out after three months following the introduction of Tim Armstrong as CEO. Coleman was eventually tapped as president and chief revenue officer of HuffPo, where he made good on promises to double revenue in a year. Despite Coleman’s success at HuffPo, his departure from the company was announced with the AOL acquisition.

It’s not clear where Ellis is heading, but a source said that he wasn’t pushed out due to the reorg.

Levick’s full memo:


Team –

One year ago this week, we decided to innovate the future of brand advertising for the digital world. Last night, our work was recognized by the industry in a meaningful and significant way. The race is on for the next phase of advertising on the Internet and we are in that race. We have more to do, but we’re going to do it and do it quickly.

Today, we also wanted to announce a set of changes that will allow us to expand and accelerate our ability to serve our customers on a deeper level. We now have a great suite of products to match our talented team. We also have an expanding base of consumers on some of the best brands on the Internet and that represents a very attractive proposition for our customers. The addition of The Huffington Post adds an incredibly talented team of sales people and journalists to our team and we have the ability to scale all aspects of our business.

I’m very happy to announce that over the next 90 days, we will be integrating The Huffington Post sellers into our regional teams and expanding the roles of three of our star field generals – Tim Richards, Wendy McGregor, and Tim Castelli. Wendy, Tim, and Tim will lead the sales for AOL and Huffington Post Media Group and report directly to me, moving them into a more central role in AOL’s revenue strategies and management.
Jim Norton will continue to lead the Advance Sales team but will also be taking on a new role as the VP of Product Sales, reporting into me. In this role, he will help realize the potential with Mail, AIM, Local, AOL.com and other core product solutions for National and Advance advertisers, serving as a critical ‘linchpin’ that connects our advertiser opportunities with AOL solutions. Christa Zambardino will continue to lead sales efforts for AOL.com and will report to Jim.

Don Kennedy will also report directly to me, taking our focus on the network to new levels and will continue to build out our Network Sales organization, working in close partnership with Dave Jacobs and Rob Luenberger.
Finally, Mark Ellis will be leaving the organization. I can’t thank Mark enough for all he has done for AOL and for the teams during his time here. He has been a great partner to me and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
We will continue to keep you updated on the status of the Huffington Post deal as well as any other organizational announcements. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.