paidContent - Industry Moves: Garlinghouse Is BackAnd AOL's Got Him

This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
Yahoo vet Brad Garlinghouse, the author of the infamous Peanut Butter Manifesto, is back in the portal business—and in a big way. Garlinghouse, who left Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) last year (part of that company’s brain drain), is joining AOL (NYSE: TWX) as president of Internet and Mobile Communications, spearheading the portal’s global efforts to expand the reach of AIM/ICQ, e-mail and SMS services. His role on CEO Tim Armstrong’s team doesn’t stop there: he’ll head AOLs Silicon Valley operations from its Mountain View campus and also will be the West Coast lead for AOL’s VC arm, AOL Ventures. The latter fits in with his most gig as senior adviser at Silver Lake Partners. More on Garlinghouse below; my interview with him is here.

Communications is one of AOL’s newly devised five strategic areas and, until now, also one of the most glaring gaps in the top exec ranks. Garlinghouse’s background makes him almost uniquely qualified for the job: nearly six years at Yahoo, starting as VP-communication products and leaving as SVP of Communications and & Front Doors. His responsibilities at Yahoo including Yahoo Mail and overseeing Flickr and Yahoo Groups. Before Yahoo, he was CEO of, general partner at and worked at @Home Network as well as SBC Communications.

Moving from peanut butter to ... In the Peanut Butter Manifesto, the four-page 2006 memo that wound up in the Wall Street Journal, Garlinghouse explained why PB isn’t a great way to describe a company: “Ive heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular. I hate peanut butter. We all should. The blunt memo made Garlinghouse a folk hero of sorts, someone who was willing to say the emperor is naked. Now he gets the chance to put his own management ideas to work—within Armstrong’s construct, of course. Can he move away from the “jack of all trades, master of none” approach that too often afflicts portals?

By Staci D. Kramer