Michele James, chief talent scout of AOL Time Warner Inc., submitted her
resignation shortly after her boss, chief operating officer Bob Pittman, decided
to throw in the towel.
And while James said her departure is the result of her desire to start her
own business, she added that it is likely that other executives will follow
Pittman out the door.
James said she is leaving AOL Time Warner effective Sept. 30 to start her own
executive-search firm -- tentatively named James & Associates -- and she
will count AOL Time Warner and all of its divisions as clients.
The company is expected to have four offices -- in New York, San Francisco,
Los Angeles and London -- and it will be a high-end boutique firm specializing
in media and technology placement.
James -- who joined America Online Inc. about three years ago, before its
merger with Time Warner Inc. -- said she has been thinking of starting her own
company for about the past 60 days.
'In the past three years, I learned a lot,' she added. 'I thought that maybe
it's time to be entrepreneurial again and have AOL Time Warner as a client, but
on the outside. Bob [Pittman] was a huge supporter of that.'
She continued, 'I do think you're going to see a talent drain out of the
organization. I think you'll see several folks rethinking their position in the
Given all those factors, James said, the opportunity was right to go out on
She wouldn't name names. But according to other sources, it is likely that
former allies of Pittman -- like senior vice president Marshall Cohen, in charge
of the company's consumer and marketing research; AOL International president
Michael Lynton; and executive VP, office of the CEO Kenneth Lerer -- may be
rethinking their status at the company.