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AOL Chief Technology Officer Gounares Departs to Pursue Startup

AOL Inc.’s Alex Gounares, a technology executive the Internet company hired away from Microsoft Corp. in 2010, is stepping down to pursue a business startup.

The executive, who led engineering efforts as chief technology officer, will leave in April, Kelly Mayes, a spokeswoman for New York-based AOL, said today in a telephone interview. He will be replaced during an interim period by Curtis Brown, now a technology executive, Mayes said.

Gounares plans to work on his own venture, he said in a telephone interview, declining to give details.

The departure follows a reorganization announced in December by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong. The dial-up Internet-access business was merged with Web services, including AOL Instant Messenger, and put under Chief Financial Officer Arthur Minson.

Armstrong finds himself challenged by executive turnover as he moves to revive growth at the Web portal. Both Brad Garlinghouse, a technology veteran who ran the applications and commerce group and Silicon Valley operations, and Michael Arrington, the founder of the TechCrunch blog, left AOL last year.

Before joining AOL, Gounares worked for 17 years for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, where he helped lead projects, including global advertising, the Bing search engine, and the MSN portal.

Because Gounares agreed to remain at AOL through a transition period, he won’t be required to repay a signing bonus, the company said in a filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Separately, TechCrunch said its editor, Erick Schonfeld, will be leaving, and his successor will be Eric Eldon, a writer who joined the blog in November. Schonfeld took over as editor after Arrington left in September.

“TechCrunch is in good hands,” Schonfeld wrote on his Twitter account. “I’m very proud of the team I’ve built there.”

AOL shares were little changed when they closed at $18.19 in New York. The shares have risen 20 percent this year.

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