A month after Jonathan Miller unexpectedly got fired as AOL's chief executive, three of the senior executives who reported directly to him and who oversee key areas of AOL's business are on their way out, according to sources.
Jim Bankoff, executive vice president of consumer and publisher services, and Joe Redling, president of AOL Mobile, customer management and paid services, and chairman and CEO of AOL International, will leave the company soon, along with John Buckley, executive vice president of corporate communications.
All three are still with the company but have set the process in motion to pack their bags and move on, taking advantage of a so-called "change of control" clause in their contracts, sources said. Joining them will be John McKinley, who, as had been confirmed previously, is leaving at the end of the year after a temporary stint as chief technology officer.
It's no surprise to see senior executive changes after a CEO is replaced, said industry analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. In the case of AOL, clearly the parent company, Time Warner, was dissatisfied with Miller's performance. It should be clear to everyone that Time Warner wants to see a change in course, he said.
What that course might be still remains to be seen, said Enderle, who doesn't rule out the possibility that Time Warner may be getting ready to sell AOL. "I didn't think AOL was in that bad a shape, but clearly Time Warner is very unhappy," he said.
The departures of Redling and Bankoff will likely make industry observers wonder if AOL runs the risk of derailing, at a time when it is undergoing a critical structural and strategic overhauling. Before his sudden ousting, Miller had garnered general praise from pundits for steering AOL through a radical transformation, from a company focused on dial-up internet access subscription fees to one focused on online advertising.
An official announcement from AOL about the impending departures of these executives and their replacements is likely to come next week, sources said.