Posted March 13, 2009 7:32 am by with 5 comments

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There’s no doubt that Tim Armstrong did a lot of great things while serving as Google’s top ad sales executive, but his departure to become AOL’s new CEO takes place during a slump in performance.

With the recently announced closures of Google Audio Ads and Google Print–and Google TV not doing much better–Google, led by Armstrong’s efforts, has struggled to diversify its ad sales. Which leads me to the big question: Did Tim Armstrong leave Google because it was struggling, or because he was struggling?

Think about it. Either way Armstrong is a genius.

If Google’s business model simply doesn’t lend itself to anything other than AdWords and AdSense, why would a hot-shot ad sales guy stick around in such a limited role?

Alternatively, if Armstrong was the weak link–after all most of his experience is in online ad sales–then why not switch to a company that, a) needs help with its online ad sales and, b) is willing to offer you what Google can’t–the title of CEO?

Unfortunately for Armstrong, by taking the AOL gig, we’re unlikely to find out if he was a superstar held back or a one-trick pony let go. Unless AOL can free itself of Time Warner–which is unlikely in this tough recession–Armstrong may find that his ability to turn AOL around is very much hampered by old baggage. goes as far as asking "Has Google’s Tim Armstrong Lost His Mind?" I don’t know, what do you think?

  • This may be a very smart move on his part. It seems there is potential for growth over at AOL. If he can turn around the ad sales he will quickly become the shining star and can right his own ticket. At Google he was just one of many and did not have a huge potential to stand out from the crowd.

    It is still a gamble because if there are not improvements quickly over at AOL he may wish he stayed where he was.

    Bo Tipton
    The Ornery Marketer

    Bo Tipton’s last blog post..Can I Make Money In The Next Thirty Days

  • I look forward to tracking his impact on the company – I’d definitely watch an Armstrong at AOL reality show if they made one 😉


  • maybe him stepping over to AOL he can bring that back from the dead and re-brand it.

  • i would have to guess that the title of CEO and the opportunity to right a sinking ship would be appealing to someone as young and well positioned as he is.

    There may be some genius in there because he is really in a no lose situation with the AOL deal. It has been dying on the branch for the longest time and the expectations are SO low that if he failed I doubt anyone would hold it against him. On the other hand, if he even has a modicum of success he will not only be a sales genius but an executive genius as well.

    Sounds ingenious on some levels to me but he must enjoy trouble because there is little good news coming from AOL and / or TW.

    Frank Reed’s last blog post..Holding On

  • @Frank – good points!