Robert Pittman

COO, AOL Time Warner

The potential to do things neither America Online nor Time Warner have even thought of is what makes the combination exciting, George Vradenburg III, executive vice president of global and strategic policy at AOL Time Warner, recently said.

Progress can begin only after AOL Time Warner is a synergistic union. The job of making that happen belongs to Robert Pittman, who shares the chief operating officer post with Richard Parsons. Pittman will supervise subscription services, advertising and commerce, and the heads of AOL Interactive, Home Box Office, Time, Time Warner Cable, Turner Broadcasting System and The WB Television Network will report to him.

Pittman has served in top posts at AOL and Time Warner. He also co-founded MTV in the early 80s, and spent the second half of the 90s molding AOL into the easy-to-use service it has become today.

"He lets the consumers desire guide his actions," says Gene Klein, vice president of content at the entertainment incubator Hypnotic. "Hes also able to articulate very complicated and mixed signals to crystallize the direction for his company."

Mike Vorhaus, managing director at media research and consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates, expects Pittman to initially focus on Time Warner. "A lot of the brands are undervalued, and hell look at how they can be brought online and strengthened offline," Vorhaus says.

While competitors know the power of AOL Time Warner, they also hope to benefit from the its efforts in emerging areas. Many hope Pittman and his team can figure out how to create advertising buys across platforms, music subscription services worth paying for and interactive TV that people want to watch.