AOL hires Microsoft's Alex Gounares as new CTO

Alex Gounares joins the company this week to spearhead AOL's technology strategy. AOL also names Julie Jacobs as new general counsel.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

AOL has filled two key positions, grabbing Alex Gounares from Microsoft as the new CTO and promoting Julie Jacobs as the new general counsel.

AOL's new CTO Alex Gounares
AOL's new CTO Alex Gounares Microsoft

Gounares arrives at AOL this week to take over as chief technology officer and join the company's Global Executive Operating Committee, the company announced Monday. In his new role, Gounares will spearhead AOL's technology strategy, in charge of platform development and external partnerships. He'll also manage the expansion of AOL's engineering centers and technology staff around the world and be counted on to play a leading role in the company's overall direction.

Replacing former CTO Ted Cahall, who left in late January, Gounares will report directly to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and work at the company's main engineering and technology center in Dulles, Va.

All Things Digital reported Friday that sources had already pegged Gounares as joining AOL following his exit from Microsoft where he was a corporate vice president and the chief technology officer for the Online Services Division. While at Microsoft, Gounares led several key projects, including the company's global advertising platform, Bing search engine, MSN, and Microsoft Virtual Earth.

In his 17-year career at Microsoft, Gounares also served for three years as technology adviser to co-founder Bill Gates and was a corporate vice president in the company's finance department. The 37-year-old has a bachelor's degree cum laude in computer sciences from Princeton University, and is an inventor of more than 100 U.S. patents filed and currently pending, according to AOL.

"I'm delighted to welcome Alex to AOL's global leadership team," Armstrong said in a statement. "Alex is a world-class technologist and he has proven leadership experience in the development of global consumer and business platforms for the Internet. Alex brings deep experience in our strategy areas, as well as meaningful experience in strategy and corporate operations."

AOL's new chief counsel Julie Jacobs
AOL's new chief counsel, Julie Jacobs AOL

In other news on the hiring front, AOL announced Monday it has named Julie Jacobs as the new general counsel and an executive vice president. In her role as AOL's chief legal officer, Jacobs will manage the company's legal department and affairs and act as counsel to senior management on different issues.

She'll also be responsible for all legal, regulatory, compliance, and public policy issues, serve as corporate secretary for AOL's board, and become the company's liaison with investors and advocacy groups.

After joining AOL in 2000, Jacobs was most recently a senior vice president and the deputy general counsel in which she managed the company's corporate and transactional legal work, covering the areas of securities law compliance, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, and commercial transactions.

Taking over for the former general counsel Ira Parker, who's moving to an advisory role, Jacobs will report directly to Armstrong.

"Julie is a proven leader and outstanding counselor, and I am delighted to welcome her to this new role, Armstrong said in a statement. "From overseeing complex financial transactions, to negotiating key business arrangements, to restructuring ventures across AOL's international footprint, Julie is devoted to upholding AOL's values and protecting the interests of our stakeholders."

Since AOL split up with Time Warner in December, Armstrong has been under even greater pressure to resuscitate the company. But the latest sales figures show that AOL is facing an uphill battle on the road to revenue growth.