Hit “reset” and forget everything you’ve read about Tim Armstrong leaving Google for AOL. Take a leap of faith and believe he was not brought in to take the company public on its own, or paint this house and then sell it to another media company. Armstrong at AOL makes sense on many levels. From TimeWarner CEO Jeff Bewkes’ point of view, this is a logical hire to keep AOL within the company and connect its fate to TimeWarner’s myriad content brands.
Bewkes has been through a few top dogs at AOL. One, Jon Miller, came in with a very impressive resume on the ecommerce and entertainment content lines. His strategy did not drive revenue. Now Bewkes is looking at a company that has media assets occupying very different stages of their lifecycles. Movies and cable are still prime. One of the most troubling assets is a huge stack of print magazines of varying profitability and viability. Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, and even the flagship Time have had a tough time maintaining readership and revenue. Readers have moved online, but TW has cut too many deals to make the internet a value-add for print sales. Revenue migration has lagged.