Major changes at Fox Interactive Media (NYSE: NWS), all centered on money … Michael Barrett is leaving rather than change roles after his job of chief revenue officer was eliminated in a reorganization of advertising operations and sales. FIM is decentralizing sales and moving the branded sales teams into the units they support — IGN, Photobucket, sports, etc.
At the same time, FIM is spinning ad operations, performance sales, its new hypertargeting and more into the FIM Audience Network — a monetization technology business unit with its own P&L and FIM veteran Adam Bain as president. Bain’s charter is to not only serve FIM clients but third parties as well, something already underway. He will report to FIM president Peter Levinsohn; the new unit includes at its core interactive ad tech company Strategic Data Corp. (SDC) acquired early last year.
According to sources familiar with the situation, the decision to create the new unit resulted in the shift for Barrett, who declined the offer of another job and will be a consultant during a two-month transition. The move was described as “furthering strengths” and “empowering Adam’s group to go out and build a business.”
FIM was scrambling to get the news of the moves to its own employees after a report by TechCrunch tonight and declined comment. TechCrunch also reported that FIM expects to miss a revenue target of $1 billion during this fiscal year ending June 30.
This is a little tricky because $1 billion was an amount News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch offered as a highest possibility — complete with 20 percent margins — but the way he put it was he wouldn’t be surprised if it happened that way. It’s not clear that it was an actual internal target — or the bluest-sky possibility raising expectations and pressure. Either way, FIM is likely to make $900 million in revenue for the News Corp fiscal year and Murdoch’s surprise may come from not being able to brag about FIM’s first $1 billion year (although $900 million would have been considered a victory before those comments). The company reported $233 million total revenue for FYQ2, up 87 percent, with operating profit of $47 million compared to an $11 million loss the previous year. Ad revenue rose 43 percent, year over year, and 31 percent sequentially.
Update: I mentioned one explanation for the moves above. Another version has MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe at the center — suggesting that his desire for control over MySpace sales and friction with Barrett led to moving branded sales to the brands themselves. Barrett’s job was all about the brands and his FIM deal gave him an out if his responsibilities changed. At MySpace, this puts Jeff Berman, EVP-marketing and content, in the lead sales role, and, it puts DeWolfe center stage on delivering.
Beyond that, FIM is likely to see a batch of departures on the sales side if Barrett’s peeps follow him out. Finding good internet sales jobs these days is a lot easier than finding good sales people.