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STAFFING REPORT: Changes at AMD, BBC, Washington Post and More

staff changesThe revolving doors of corporate suites are always turning. New hires coming in, new executives restocking teams with teams of their own choosing, people moving to new challenges or to pasture.  It’s a constant.  This past week, however, has seen enough executive staff shifting to keep any HR team busy.  From Motorola to AMD, from the BBC to NBC and CBS, from the Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal, the corporate trees got a good shake.  Here’s the recap of who’s in and who’s out:

•• TAKE TWO  ••
The gaming industry has been growing extensively, especially in Asia.  So, even with EA’s hostile takeover looming, Take Two isn’t sitting idle. They’ve hired former Electronic Arts exec Hubert Larenaudie to run their Asian market initiatives.  He’ll primarily be focused on online games service Japan, Korea and China. Larenaudie previously held a similar role for EA. He was also president of Vivendi Games’ Asia Pacific group.

•• SAMSUNG  ••
Officially, no changes have been announced from the South Korea’s largest conglomerate but with government independent counsel investigating allegations of bribery, some changes at the senior level are expected within the coming month.

Chairman Lee Kun-hee, the son of the company’s founder, has publicly said he will take “full responsibility, either morally or legally” if any wrong doing is discovered.

The investigators are reviewing claims by a former senior in-house attorney that the company had allocated as much as $200 million to pay off judges, prosecutors and others.   Charges also claim that corporate funds were  misused to pay for personal projects like the Samsung Art Museum and possibly for bribes aimed at insuring Lee’s son will succeed him at the company’s leadership position when he eventually retires.

The investigation is scheduled to conclude April 23rd. The extent of changes will hinge on what is determined.

•• BBC  ••
After 8 years at the BBC , four of which involved overseeing the BBC’s online video iPlayer project, Ashley Highfield, is leaving his role as the director of BBC’s future media and technology initiatives to join a combined BBC, ITV and Channel 4 Internet TV venture: Project Kangaroo. Ashley will be taking the helm as CEO.  He’ll take over from interim CEO Lesley MacKenzie.  The BBC has not named a successor.

When Greg Brown replaced Ed Zander in the CEO role earlier this year, it was widely expected Zander’s remaining time at Chairman would be short as well.  Now it’s official.  Effective on May 5th, after the annual meeting, Zander will retire and be replaced as Non Executive Chairman by former AT&T head David Dornan.

Dornan spent almost thirty years in the telecom industry service in roles at Sprint, SBC, Pac Bell and AT&T.  He was Chairman and CEO there from 2002 until 2005.  He’d been on the board of Motorola since 2006. 

As Chairman of Motorola, he’ll have increased responsibility for overseeing the planned spin-off of the handset business into a new company.

Whispers say he was also instrumental in helping to end recent hostilities between fellow board member Carl Icahn and the company.

•• AMD ••
When the struggling chip maker announced a recent plan to cut ten percent of their global workforce, major executives weren’t intended to be part of the reshuffling.  CTO Phil Hester had other plans.  The company announced Friday that their top tech executive was resigning after three years on the job.  AMD spokespeople are saying his decision was connected to neither the company’s financial troubles (AMD lost more than $3 billion in 2007 on $ 6 billion in sales) nor its staff reduction. The company also said Hester was not responsible for major delays in the company’s Opteron chip product line.  That was the fault of individual business units that have their own executive structures.

Hester will not be replaced, at least for now. As part of a structure he established, each core business unit has its own CTO overseeing product roadmaps and development.

With a new lifestyle magazine called WSJ aimed to lauch in September, the company has tapped former Travel and Lesiure SVP and publisher Ellen Asmodeo-Giglio to oversee the publication.  She’ll have a similar title overseeing WSJ.

The magazine, which will run under the tagline "The Luxury of Choice," will feature as an insert in the paper’s Saturday Edition beginning in September. It’s reportedly been in development for two years.

Katharine Weymouth, granddaughter of the Post’s famed Kay Graham, has been heading up a recently created media group that includes both newspaper and online properties with the goal of averting the struggles facing the rest of the newspaper industry.  She took the role in February and then made in clear her goal was make the Washington Post into a broader media organization “rather than a newspaper company and an Internet company.”  The first casualty of that shift seems to be Caroline Little, chief of the online properties. 

Reuters reported Friday, Little, the former head of posts online division (Washington Post Newsweek Interactive (“WPNI”)) which included the Washington Post online, and Newsweek Interactive quit.  Little had been CEO and publisher for the group since 2004.   

Jennifer Moyer, the current COO of WPNI will take the responsibilities until an official successor is named.

•• TAKKLE ••
Well funded social network Takkle, which is aiming to capture a niche for high school sports, has hired some sports media experience. They’ll bring in Sean Mahoney as VP of advertising sales to be VP of advertising sales. (press release here)

••CBS ••
The television distribution arm of the broadcaster has hired branding expert Greg Bennett to build an in house ad unit focused on selling product placements in both TV and Online CBS programming.  Bennett will work in a new position under the title of SVP for Branded Entertainment. Bennett was previously running O! Branded Entertainment & Marketing, which he founded in 2003.

•• NBC ••
Rival network, NBC has also moved to strengthen some of its initiatives. The GE Company hired Michael Bass as SVP of Strategic Initiatives.   Bass will report directly to NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker and focus on everything from upfront ad sales strategies to programming and digital strategies. Bass was previously at NBC in a variety of roles including Senior Broadcast producer between 95 and 2001. He’d recently been executive producer of "The Early Show" at CBS.


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