Lycos Names New CEO; Continues Revamp

Lycos this week officially named Alfred Tolle as its new CEO, though he quietly took the reins in late February or early March. It’s the most significant executive change the company has made since it was acquired by Daum Communications last year.

Tolle, who sits on Daum’s board, is charged with guiding Lycos as it refocuses on media, entertainment, and user-generated content — a direction the company announced over a year and a half ago. Tolle takes the role formerly held by David Kim. Lycos officials were mum on Kim’s fate.

Tolle is responsible for revenue; leading the management of all sites within Lycos’ portfolio; sales; product development and marketing. Earlier, he was Bertelsmann’s VP of Far and Southeast Asia for BOL.com. He also founded Tolle Media, a consulting group.

As part of the re-focusing, Paul Van De Kamp was brought in as director of media sales for Lycos and its Wired News property. Van De Kamp is charged with building an in-house team to sell ads for Wired News, and possibly to move more Lycos’ ad sales in house.

“I will be supervising Wired sales and 24/7,” Van De Kamp told ClickZ News. “[We] may bring additional inventory in-house down the road. Nothing specific yet.” A five-year deal with 24/7 Real Media was renewed last December, less than one year into the original contract.

Van De Kamp looks to deepen the relationship with 24/7. “By being in New York, I’ll be able to work more closely with them and have our relationship thrive,” he said.

The appointments of Tolle and Van De Kamp follow the re-hiring of two former Lycos executives earlier this year. Dan Sullivan, who had departed for a venture capital job, rejoined as senior vice president and general counsel, while Brian Kalinowski came on as chief content officer after working at people search firm Ziggs.

The portal-turned-social-networking site has foundered lately, casting inconsistent messages about its direction. It announced plans to become a social-networking and signed a deal with 24/7 Real Media, then it said it would create a social sharing platform to allow people to talk with friends they already know, rather than with new contacts. Lycos then decided to launch a dating service.

Lycos’ consistently inconsistent strategic direction has caused the company to drop largely out of sight. “Lycos is still in business?” was the waggish comment of once observer, Vin Crosbie, president and managing partner of Digital Deliverance. “Well, so’s Prodigy and I guess, AOL for that matter.”

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