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AOL Executive Brad Garlinghouse Said to Be Departing Web Company

AOL Inc.’s Brad Garlinghouse, an executive brought on in 2009 to help revive growth at the Internet company, is stepping down, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

Garlinghouse, who has run the applications and commerce group and AOL’s Silicon Valley operations, previously worked at Yahoo! Inc. and Silver Lake Partners. Sarah Lacy, a senior editor at TechCrunch, the technology blog that AOL bought last year, also intends to depart, according to another person familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified because the plans haven’t been made public.

The turnover deals a blow to AOL’s comeback effort, led by Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong. Already the company has struggled to hang on to users and advertisers, which are increasingly flocking to social-networking sites such as Facebook Inc. AOL shares lost 37 percent this year before today.

“Brad’s a really strong manager and when you lose strong people, it’s never a good thing for a company,” said Geoff Ralston, a partner at educational startup incubator Imagine K12, who worked with Garlinghouse at Yahoo.

Garlinghouse joined AOL before its spinoff from Time Warner Inc., part of a team tasked with transforming the dial-up Internet service into a modern Web portal.

‘Manifesto’ Writer

Garlinghouse gained renown at Yahoo in 2006 for sending a scathing memo to the top brass. In what came to be known as the “Peanut Butter Manifesto,” Garlinghouse said Yahoo had spread itself too thinly across many businesses. He was hired at AOL to bring that same sense of focus to the New York-based company.

Lacy, an author and former columnist for Businessweek and co-host of Yahoo’s TechTicker video series, joined TechCrunch in 2009, before the blog’s acquisition by AOL. Her departure follows that of Michael Arrington, the TechCrunch founder who left in September to start a venture fund.

Kiersten Hollars, a spokeswoman for AOL in Palo Alto, California, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Garlinghouse’s departure was previously reported by the GigaOm technology site.

AOL slipped 16 cents to $14.86 yesterday in New York.

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