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Interview: AOL People Networks' Joanna Shields

  • CNet, Tuesday, February 24, 2009 11:30 AM
Bebo recently unveiled some "spiffy new features" prior to being rolled into a new division of Time Warner's AOL. CNet's Rafe Needleman talks with the president of the new division, Joanna Shields, about the long-term strategy for AOL People Networks.

Shields was originally brought in by Bebo's investors to package and sell the company, which she obviously succeeded at (Time Warner bought Bebo for $850 million last year). Now, she's sticking around to make sure the investment pays off for AOL. "Clearly a lot of people...are curious about her plans for doing so," says Needleman.

The People Networks group includes Bebo, AIM, ICQ, SocialThing, Yedda and Groovy Media. Before she arrived on the scene, Shields says AOL's social media properties were operating as islands. Well, they basically still are, Needleman points out, although Shields is trying to bring all the pieces and parts together into a system that's useful for people. Bebo knows that it isn't Facebook, but with AIM's audience, AOL has a built-in user base of 94 million global users. This, Needleman says, should have been AOL's social network, to which Shields replies, "It should have been our Twitter, too."

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