Architect of AOL’s Ad Revival Steps Down, Reorg Planned

Ted Leonsis, AOL’s versatile vice chairman and president of the company’s audience business, will resign his operational duties by the beginning of next year. He’ll stay on as vice chairman.

Leonsis, an AOL vet of 13 years and one of the architects of the company’s advertising revival, won’t be directly replaced. Rather, his resignation precedes a reorganization the company is expected to unveil in the next several days. The reshuffle will be tied to AOL’s August move to eliminate subscription fees for its broadband users, in the hopes of retaining those users and boosting ad revenue.

In an e-mail to staff, Leonsis said his decision was motivated by a desire to pursue his many other projects and interests, which include sports team ownership, philanthropic pursuits and film production. He’s now working on three movie projects, including “Nanking,” a documentary slated for 2007 release. He also has majority stakes in the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, and he was at one time the mayor of Orchid, Florida.

“Some other interests have been calling me, and I’d now like to balance out all of my life’s pursuits,” he wrote in the memo to AOLers.

Leonsis joined AOL in 1993, when the company acquired his Redgate Communications Corp. Redgate was involved in the launches of Apple’s Mac and IBM’s PC, and it launched four computing magazines.

During his tenure with AOL, Leonsis has held a variety of strategic and executive roles. He took charge of the advertising and content division when it was created in 2004 amid a heavy round of staff cuts that included both management and rank-and-file jobs.

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