AOL’s former executive vice president of products, Kevin Conroy, has accepted a position at Univision. That’s right, the spanish television network. The guy who went down in AOL history as the one who single handedly shut down not one, not two, but ten products in the course of 2008. That’s an impressive accomplishment, especially as he takes the reigns as ‘president’ of ‘interactive media’.
In a letter written by Randy Falco’s henchmen, he bid adieu to Conroy. (Does he not have the brass to write a goodbye letter himself?) He must have many samples to read from, as about 80% of his direct reports sent theirs via internal listservs that surely scrolled across his screen. Again, it comes down to the lack of respect for fellow employees and passion around products. At the end of the day, it’s always about Page Views and ARPU.
It’s OK, Kevin, no one will miss you. I wish you the best at shutting down Univision’s products and services, whichever those are.
From both a former employee, former AOL subscriber, and fellow AOL user advocate — thank you. Thank you for destroying the user experience the best you could. The only products that remained after your tenure are AOL Mail, AIM, AOL Message Boards and Chat Rooms. You’ve respectfully turned the lights out on the unquantifiable amount of memories, community experiences, relationships, brand reputation [for AOL] and it shall never return.
See, on the Web, users are loyal. Not just to companies and brands, but to their customer experiences. It’s their experience that speaks louder than any kind of marketing can. I can only wish that upon your exit, you received not a dime of severance from the AOL subscribers, investors, employees (active/former) and any remaining leadership who remain.
You know, the real disappointing aspect about your final moments of your position at AOL is that you could have salvaged a decent family of products. I held hope that AOL could have turned around, possibly there would be one soul on the leadership team who actually gave a shit about users; I held hope that developers would resurrect a sunsetted product into a better one. But you didn’t. Instead, you lobotomized creativity, locked down passion from leaving the building, and willfully dropped an entire family of products on a whim due to page view performance.
For that, only you are to blame for poor leadership. Good riddance.
I speak for the community of AOL users, critics, employees, leadership: “Thank you. ”
Included below is the e-mail Randy Falco sent to the employees, gleefully leaked to Silicon Alley Insider.
Dear AOL colleague,
I’m writing to tell you that Kevin Conroy has accepted a position as President of Interactive Media at Univision. I want to thank Kevin for all he’s done on behalf of AOL during his time here, particularly over the past two years. I’m proud to have worked with Kevin and happy for him as he takes on this new role.
When I arrived here two years ago, I asked Kevin to take on one of the most important and difficult assignments – to completely revamp and revitalize AOL’s suite of products, while at the same time globalizing product development and expanding our reach across the Web. I knew Kevin had the drive and discipline needed to meet and exceed this challenge.
Under Kevin’s leadership, for example, AOL Mail made a dramatic turnaround, with a steady stream of upgrades and globalization (it’s available in 48 locales) that generated a 31% increase in page views last year. Our products are now more open to developers, more widely distributed through widgets and gadgets, and are at long last back on the Mac. The iPhone apps developed under Kevin’s leadership have been huge hits, generating millions of downloads. AOL now has a strong position in video and video search, an innovative partnership with CBS Radio, a strong lineup of toolbars, reinvigorated Winamp and SHOUTcast products, and the all-new AOL Desktop. At the same time, Kevin refined our product lineup so we could devote more resources to our key products.
Having done all this and much more, Kevin told me that he very much wanted to return to his media roots. If you don’t know, Kevin came to AOL eight years ago from BMG Entertainment, and his first assignment at AOL was to build AOL Music, which is now the leading music destination on the Web. At Univision, Kevin will be responsible for developing both online and mobile experiences for the nation’s fastest-growing audience. While we’re saying goodbye to Kevin, it’s my hope that we’ll continue to work with him in his new role.
We’ll be providing transition details about the Products organization soon. In the meantime, please join me in offering Kevin our very best wishes on his future endeavors.