AOL Time Warner Inc. made it official late Thursday, announcing the
resignation of chief operating officer Robert Pittman and a new operational
structure that will split the company into two groups.
In a statement, AOL Time Warner said that Pittman has decided to step down as
COO and as a member of the company's board of directors. He will depart after
completing the transition to a new CEO of the America Online Internet division.
Last week, AOL Time Warner said it had hired an executive search firm - Spencer
Stuart - to look for a permanent CEO for the online unit.
According to a press release, AOL Time Warner has adopted a new operating
structure, splitting the company into two units - the Media and Communications
Group and the Entertainment and Networks Group.
Media and Communications will be headed by former Time Inc. chairman Don
Logan and will include America Online, Time Inc., Time Warner Cable, AOL Time
Warner Book Group and the Interactive Video unit. The Entertainment and Networks
Group will be headed by former Home Box Office Inc. chairman Jeff Bewkes and
will include HBO, New Line Cinema, The WB, Turner Networks, Warner Bros. and
Warner Music. Both group chairmen will report directly to AOL Time Warner CEO
Chris Albrecht will replace Bewkes as chairman and CEO of HBO. Also, Bill
Nelson, formerly HBO's executive vice president in charge of finance,
information and operations technology and business affairs, has been promoted to
'We have the best media, entertainment and communications business in the
world, but our challenge - and our goal in making these changes - is to take the
lessons we've learned over the past two years and use them to make the parts
work together to create greater value for our shareholders,' Parsons said in a
'With Don, Jeff and our business heads on board, we will have a united team
focused on driving new growth and developing innovative products and
Pittman has been under fire for months and speculation was rampant that he
would soon leave the company.
Formerly president of America Online Inc., Pittman became co-chief-operating
officer of AOL Time Warner after the merger was completed in January 2001.
But as the synergies so highly touted when the merger was first announced
began to unravel, so apparently did Pittman's stature in the company.
He was passed over for the CEO position by Parsons - who was co-COO before
being named CEO in May. In April, Pittman was tapped to turn around the AOL
Internet unit, which had seen advertising revenue decline dramatically.
According to reports Pittman's failure to turn around the unit quickly,
coupled with the pressures associated with the COO job, caused him to
In a statement, Pittman seemed to confirm those reports.
'I've decided that after a new CEO is in place at AOL, I won't return to AOL
Time Warner as chief operating officer,' Pittman said in a statement. 'Having
worked so hard to build the AOL service and brand, and after then going through
the merger and the last 18 months, it's time to take a break. I'm proud of what
we built at AOL and believe it has a great future.'