Big Move: Razorfish Global CEO Bob Lord Departs for AOL

13-Year Agency Veteran Succeeded by Pete Stein, Other Execs Also Step Up

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Publicis Groupe is losing its global CEO of Razorfish, Bob Lord, who's been hired as the new CEO of AOL Networks, formerly known as group.

Mr. Lord had spent 13 years at Razorfish, joining before it was acquired by Publicis Groupe in 2009. In addition to running one of the biggest digital shops in adland, he became a key figure in the French ad holding company's aim to derive the majority of its revenue from digital marketing. Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy charged Mr. Lord with charting the company's digital future. In 2011 Mr. Lord was named to oversee a "digital transformation team" within the group. He oversaw a cross-agency team including the DigitasLBInetwork and Denuo.

Bob Lord
Bob Lord

Mr. Lord's exit means that various Publicis Groupe executives are stepping up to take over his responsibilities. Among them: Pete Stein, becomes global CEO; Shannon Denton becomes U.S. CEO of Razorfish, and Rishad Tobaccowala is the new chairman of Razorfish and DigitasLBI.

It's a major career change for Mr. Lord, who's 50, to transition to the media-seller side of the business. Prior to Razorfish he served as a digital consultant for the bulk of his career.

In his new job, he'll oversee all aspects of AOL Networks, AOL's flagship technology stack that services more than 22,000 publishers and 4,000 advertiser and agency clients. Mr. Lord will report to AOL Chairman and CEO, Tim Armstrong, and be a member of the AOL corporate leadership team.

Mr. Lord replaces Ned Brody, who resigned in April. AllThingsD noted that Mr. Brody received an offer to run Yahoo's key Americas sales org but, according to unnamed sources, remains in non-compete contract limbo, a dispute that has still not been resolved between AOL and Yahoo.

In a public statement about the hire, Mr. Armstrong said Mr. Lord has a proven track record of driving innovation within organizations and his energy and drive will accelerate growth at AOL Networks. In a memo to employees for the division, Mr. Armstrong called it "a game-changing day."

Mr. Lord, who also wrote a note to AOL employees, said the company is in a unique position to create an end-to-end ad-tech stack that is focused on premium digital media.

"There is only one other company that has the tech stack that we have at AOL Networks -- and last I checked, Google was squarely focused on owning the long-tail, not premium, which marketers are seeking as they navigate the new multi-channel marketing landscape," he wrote.

He added: "As a 15-year veteran of the global marketing and agency landscape, I am confident we will challenge (and disrupt) the status quo and push the entire industry forward."

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