Morgan leaves AOL as Time Warner explores split

Dave Morgan, founder of Tacoda, has left his post as EVP of global advertising strategy at AOL, to pursue undefined start-up opportunities. His role was that of an advisor to AOL’s ad platform in the wake of the company restructuring its assets in this division.

Morgan came on board at AOL three months ago, after AOL acquired Tacoda, the behavioral advertising company that he founded in 2001. Morgan’s key role was working on the integration of Tacoda into AOL’s Platform A advertising net­work. He will continue to work with AOL to identify start-up opportunities that are strategic to AOL and Platform A.

“We’ve benefited greatly from [Mor­gan’s] enthusiasm, his insights and his deep connections to the industry, and we will continue to do so as we bring Platform A to market this year,” said Ron Grant, COO of AOL, in an internal memo.

“Dave, though, is an entrepreneur at heart, and so it didn’t really surprise me that he wanted to get back in the start-up game again, and we’ll look forward to working with him in the future,” Grant added in the same memo.

Morgan’s departure comes at the same time that Time Warner has announced that it plans to split AOL into two sepa­rate divisions. Reportedly, one division would focus on Internet access and the other on online services and advertising. AOL did not return calls by press time about how these two distinctive divi­sions would play out — including when an announcement might come and who would head each arm.

The proposed split itself also comes on the heels of a series of acquisitions in the advertising business for AOL, which have facilitated the growth of the Platform A network. Platform A, which contains AOL’s property, is made up of a network of firms that offer a variety of marketing services includ­ing targeting, Web analytics and online display ad models.

Acquisitions include contextual adver­tising firm Quigo, behavioral targeting firm Tacoda, mobile ad network Third Screen Media and ad serving network AdTech AG. Each of these companies was acquired last year.

Other acquisitions include video adver­tising platform Lightningcast, a 2006 AOL acquisition, and affiliate ad network and e-commerce services firm, a property that was acquired by AOL last week.

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