AOL Brand Head Susan Lyne Tackles New Female-Focused VC Fund

Less than a year and a half after her arrival, AOL is losing Susan Lyne as head of its Brand Group. No defection, however, Lyne will now lead the BBG Fund -- a new venture fund inside AOL focused on early-stage investments in women-led consumer Web start-ups.

Rather than a “feel good fund,” AOL is betting on BBG -- which stands for “build by girls” -- to cultivate real value, a company representative said on Tuesday.

First reported by Re/Code’s Kara Swisher on Tuesday, Lyne quickly confirmed the move on her official Twitter account. “Excited to start!” was all she had to say about the new endeavor.

Going forward, Maureen Sullivan, president of Media Brands, will continue to lead, as well as AOL’s lifestyle brands and money portfolio, while Luke Beatty, president of Media Brands, will lead AOL’s technology, autos and entertainment properties, as well as its Experimental Products team. Arianna Huffington and Jimmy Maymann will continue to run The Huffington Post.



During her short stint at as brand head, Lyne was expected to grow traffic across AOL’s properties, including and The Huffington Post, while cultivating new relationships up and down Madison Avenue.

The prize hire followed AOL’s decision in mid-February 2013 to begin managing its business by segments, including a Brand Group.

Prior to her at AOL arrival in February 2013, Lyne served as CEO and then chairman of Gilt Groupe. Having already served on AOL’s board for three years, Lyne was well acquainted with its management team and brand assets. Before Gilt, Lyne served as president/CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Before that, she was president of ABC Entertainment, where she helped develop shows like “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”  

Excluding the impact of Patch, Brand Group display revenue grew 4% during the second quarter, which AOL attributed to continued growth in inventory pricing.

The failed hyperlocal media network was also blamed for a 1% decline in AOL Properties display revenue on the absence of about $15 million in revenue from “shuttered or de-emphasized brands” -- i.e., Patch.

Overall, higher costs sent profits down 1% during the second quarter, but AOL’s ad technology business continued to shine -- contributing to a 20% increase in global ad revenue. Driven by positive programmatic advertising trends, total revenue rose 12% year-over-year to just over $606 million, during the second quarter.

Continuing to build its Brand Group, AOL recently named Kim Kadlec as its new head of relationship management. In this newly created role, Kadlec is supposed to be building distribution partnerships and grow the global reach of AOL’s content and platforms.

Kadlec joined AOL from Johnson & Johnson, where she most recently served as worldwide vice president of the company’s Global Marketing Group.


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