Why Wait? Google Replaces AOL-Bound Sales Exec with Vet Dennis Woodside

Just days after Tim Armstrong, a top Google sales executive, announced he’s leaving to become CEO of Time Warner’s AOL unit, the search giant has already replaced him. Dennis Woodside, who has been vice president in charge of sales in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Benelux countries, will be new VP of Americas Operations, reporting to Omid Kordestani, the senior VP of global sales and business development.

Woodside, 40, a five-year veteran at Google, will be replacing the guy who was one of Google’s top contacts on Madison Avenue, so it was imperative that the company make a fairly quick and decisive choice. Woodside will have a lesser title, however, than Armstrong, who is still a senior VP and president of the Americas Operations until he joins AOL in a few weeks. His name did not surface in chatter about Armstrong’s likely replacement, which mentioned Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, president, Asia-Pacific & Latin America Operations, and David Rosenblatt, president of global display advertising. I had also heard from industry contacts that David Fischer, vice president of global online sales & operations, and Penry Price, VP of advertising sales for North America, would be logical choices. But apparently not.

Here’s Kordestani’s internal memo, after the jump:

In the five and a half years that Dennis has been at Google (that's over half our company's lifetime) he's brought incredible integrity and entrepreneurialism to everything he's done. I remember Dennis setting off from Mountain View in 2005, a year and a half after he joined, to start our direct sales operations in Eastern Europe, which he quickly transformed into a substantial part of our business.  He also set up our Inside Sales Operations in Dublin - again building it from scratch.  In September 2006, he became our Vice President for the UK, Ireland and Benelux where he's helped to create a first class team as well as establish very positive relationships with our big partners on both the advertiser and agency side, including 02, Marks & Spencer, Amazon and Omnicom.

Ever since I met Dennis in 2003, I have been impressed by his combination of entrepreneurialism and operational excellence.  He's never afraid to try new things and always ready to roll up his sleeves and pitch in--whether it means moving his desk to sit with the UK DSO team to see the operations first hand, or being the customers' advocate internally to help product and engineering better understand market trends. Outside work he loves to do triathlons - though I would only recommend training with him if you don't mind being out-run (if you are looking to beat him, try golf).

While we are all sorry to see Tim move on, change always brings new opportunities.  We believe it's now time not just to roll-out globally the best practices from the different regional sales teams--the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific--but also to tailor our business strategies more closely to the different situations we face in different countries (more mature versus less mature markets).

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