By Mike Shields
AOL President Bob Lord plans to leave the company, which is now owned by Verizon Communications Inc., sometime early next year.
Mr. Lord, who joined AOL in July 2013 as the head of AOL Networks, has helped steer the company toward embracing programmatic, or automated, advertising technology.
During his tenure, AOL acquired several companies in this industry, including the mobile ad company Millennial Media, the Web personalization startup Gravity, and Convertro, which helps marketers track people across digital devices. AOL also recently struck a deal to manage much of Microsoft's online advertising business.
But Mr. Lord, 52, has his sights on running a public company, and that path was essentially blocked when Verizon acquired AOL for $4.4 billion in May, making it a unit within a much-larger telecommunications behemoth.
AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong said in an interview that he had been grooming Mr. Lord to be his eventual successor. But once Verizon acquired the company, Mr. Armstrong committed to stay in his role for several more years.
Mr. Lord -- with help from Mr. Armstrong -- now plans to seek to run a public company or a company headed toward going public.
"That's my sweet spot," Mr. Lord said in an interview. "That's what I really want to do. I haven't gone out in the market and looked yet. Right now, I'm committed to making sure things are tied up at AOL."
Mr. Armstrong said that Mr. Lord will likely stay at AOL through the end of this year, but his departure date is open-ended. He said there are no plans to name a successor for Mr. Lord, in part because Mr. Armstrong has more time to help run AOL day-to-day now that the company is no longer public.
Prior to joining AOL, Mr. Lord logged more than a decade in the digital agency world, most recently as chief executive at Publicis Groupe's Razorfish.
According to an SEC filing, Mr. Lord received total compensation in 2014 of $2.8 million, including stock and option awards. When he was promoted in January, Mr. Lord's salary was raised from $750,000 to $800,000, with the potential for a 125% bonus.
Write to Mike Shields at email@example.com