Tim Armstrong is moving one of his strongest allies into a new role at AOL, where she will oversee the company's women- and lifestyle-focused websites and also launch new properties.
Maureen Sullivan, who began her career as Mr. Armstrong's assistant at Google, is vacating her role as senior VP-brand marketing and communications to take the newly created position of general manager-women's content and lifestyle brands. AOL has initiated a search for her replacement.
In her current role, Ms. Sullivan manages a staff of about 80 that focuses on corporate communications and consumer marketing. In that position, she oversaw PR efforts around the successful dispatching of activist investor Starboard Value's attempt to wrangle away seats on AOL's board. She has also worked closely with Mr. Armstrong over the past few years on new branding efforts for AOL, including the crafting of a new logo.
In the new position, Ms. Sullivan will head up all business operations for the websites Makers, Stylelist, Stylelist Home and Kitchen Daily (which currently lives within The Huffington Post's domain). In interviews on Thursday, Mr. Armstrong and Ms. Sullivan said new websites are also in the works, with the goal of developing "a Conde Nast series of properties in the digital landscape focused on women and lifestyle," as Mr. Armstrong described it.
The seeds of the move were planted when Mr. Armstrong tapped Ms. Sullivan last year to work on the development of Makers.com, a video site AOL has developed in partnership with PBS and documentary filmmakers that is focused on telling the stories of successful, influential women. Mr. Armstrong credited Ms. Sullivan with inking the site's sponsorship deal with Unilever, saying she "took it from scratch to what will be a global brand."
"One of the blessings of working with Tim for so long is I've had a right-hand copilot seat to lots of cool opportunities that roll through this door," Ms. Sullivan said. "[Makers] has been such a passion project for me. ...It's time to focus on it 100% of the time."
Mr. Armstrong objected to the notion that Ms. Sullivan's new role could be viewed as a demotion, saying this move is about putting one of AOL's best talents in a position where she can build new revenue opportunities for the company.
"The role she's going into will have a bigger net effect both in terms of top line and bottom line," he said.
The two are currently working together on the next iteration of AOL consumer branding, expected to be revealed in the coming months. "You asked, 'What is AOL?' Mr. Armstrong said. "This will answer that very clearly for consumers."
Live on Makers today, a recorded interview with Nora Ephron: