Gilt Groupe's Lyne takes on AOLNovember 6, 2009: 11:32 AM ET
Gilt Groupe CEO Susan Lyne has joined the board of AOL--soon to be spun off from Time Warner (TWX).
Does Lyne love trouble, or what? Five years ago, after Martha Stewart began her five-month prison stint in West Virginia, Lyne stepped up from the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) board to be CEO of the company--and worked, eventually hand in hand with Martha, to rebuild the crippled company.
That was a slog (Lyne left last year), and so was her three-year stint on the board of CIT (CITGQ)--which she began in 2006 when it didn't seem to be a terribly risky move. But it turned out to be. For the past few months, Lyne has had a seat at the table as CIT's board and CEO Jeff Peek vied to save the company from bankruptcy. Peek failed. Lyne left the CIT board last week--one day before CIT filed Chapter 11.
So now Lyne is turning her attention to another once-mighty company that lost its way. AOL's new CEO, Tim Armstrong, who joined from Google (GOOG) last March, is preparing for the spinoff from Time Warner by assembling a board that includes Procter & Gamble (PG) ex-global marketing chief Jim Stengel, former FCC chairman Michael Powell, tech investment banker Bill Hambrecht, and Jim Wiatt, who headed William Morris until he got squeezed out in a messy merger with talent agency Endeavor this year.
These people know pressure--and have their work cut out for them at the flagging web pioneer. Time Warner's earnings report on Wednesday included news that AOL's sales dropped 23% last quarter, while profits fell by half.
The good news for Lyne is that she has a positive story where, for her at least, it really counts: at Gilt Groupe. She joined the tiny purveyor of luxury goods last year, and it has become one of the fastest-growing companies in the Internet space.