David Eun

Some might say David Eun deserted a mighty ocean liner to jump aboard a sinking tramp steamer.

David Eun was in charge of content partnerships for Google until leaving to become AOL’s President of Media and Studios as of March 1, 2010. His departure may have had something to do with the fact that he found himself devoting most of his energies to making deals for YouTube when he had opposed buying the video-sharing site for $1.65 bil. in the first place. His reason? The site was likely to be more trouble than it was worth due to the many copyright issues implicated in YouTube’s very raison d’etre.

So far Eun’s assessment seems on the mark. YouTube remains a big money-loser struggling to create a viable business model. And its owner Google is the defendant in media giant Viacom’s $1 bil. copyright infringement suit. In fact, Eun’s dim view of the YouTube acquisition came to light through documents turned over to Viacom in that lawsuit. The fact that Eun was in charge of the business activity that is the focus of Viacom’s lawsuit may have added to his impetus to leave.

The other reason appears to have been a sense of personal loyalty to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong who had left Google in March of 2009. Under Armstrong Eun is the leading champion for AOL becoming a major proprietary content creator after its recent divorce from its disastrous marriage to Time-Warner.

But AOL is not in a strong position to dominate the internet content sphere. Its revenues shrank 17% in 2009. Armstrong has been overseeing a spate of layoffs that may claim over a third of all AOL employees. And despite its multifarious stable of 200 online content properties, AOL doesn’t enjoy the kind of dominance in any area as the likes of YouTube or even Hulu.

“David brings an impressive breadth of media experience to AOL at an exciting juncture as AOL forges a new future as a high-scale producer and partner in the content space,” is AOL’s spin articulated in a memo circulated by Armstrong.

Like Armstrong, Eun is hopeful that AOL can return to being a one-stop online media empire, the status it enjoyed during its heydays of the 1990s which culminated in its $164 billion acquisition of Time-Warner in 2000.

AOL has a unique opportunity to bring together its core strengths in the key areas of content and journalism, distribution, and advertising,” Eun told the press. “These three elements will be fundamental to success as the media and technology industries evolve and converge.”

Before joining Google Korean American David Eun worked in Time Warner’s content licensing area. Prior to that he was a partner at a venture capital firm specializing in digital media and information technology. He began his media career at NBC where he led merchandising efforts involving TV shows and the internet. His first job was management consultant at Bain & Co. He graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude in government, then from Harvard Law School.