Top execs ankle TW’s Web effort

Entertaindom loses Moloshok, Banister, Weiner

It’s official: CEO and prexy Jim Moloshok, executive VP and chief development officer Jim Banister and senior veep and chief operating officer Jeff Weiner have resigned from Time Warner’s online entertainment flagship

After months of speculation, the ankling of the three well-regarded Internet execs comes as no surprise. Offices had been emptied of personal belongings last month and employees say the execs had been missing from action even before that.

What is surprising, however, is that despite myriad offers from entertainment dot-coms and studios, Moloshok, Banister and Weiner said Monday that they will stick together as a team.

The trio plan to announce a fresh endeavor in the coming weeks.

Details have yet to be hammered out, but Moloshok told Daily Variety, “We’re planning on staying together and working together in a new entity to create new businesses with established entities. We’ve always looked at the Internet as a business. Whatever we do is going to be big, global and involve entertainment.”

Changed circumstance

In their last days at Warner Bros., the trio had been unhappy with the support Entertaindom was receiving from parent Time Warner, as well as changed terms regarding their stock options following Time Warner’s plans to merge with online giant America Online.

Plans to take Entertaindom public were scrapped and options of Time Warner stock were lowered.

The execs refused to comment on the specific issues regarding their departure, but said they will continue to act as consultants to Warner Bros. on a non-exclusive basis.

“We’re proud of what we accomplished together over the last five years and proud of our success at Warner Bros. Online and Entertaindom,” Moloshok said. “Most of all, we are proud of the online professionals that we have assembled to carry on the tradition of excellence at Warner Bros. Online and Entertaindom that we worked for over our careers at Time Warner.”

Entertaindom and its staff of 170 employees will continue to operate under newly formed unit Warner Bros. New Media, headed by studio chairman and CEO Barry Meyer and Kevin Tsujihara, recently named executive veep of the online division, which also oversees the online marketing division Warner Bros. Online.

“Jim, Jim and Jeff have done an excellent job positioning the studio as a leader in the entertainment space of the Internet,” said Meyer and Tsujihara in a statement. “In light of the pending AOL merger, which brings with it a seismic shift in Time Warner’s digital strategy, we certainly understand their desire to move on. We are grateful for their passion; we admire their vision; we appreciate their accomplishments and we wish them only the best.”

Launched last fall

Entertaindom was launched last November by Warner Bros. Online to feature original online programming and exclusive programming repurposed from Time Warner’s properties.

Even now, the site is the most ambitious studio-sponsored project to hit the Web to date.

Under the guidance of Moloshok, Banister and Weiner, Warner Bros. was also the first to launch a studio store online and a Web site to accept advertising.

“We know that this success is not a matter of any one of us individually, but all of us together,” Moloshok said. “We’re now actively in the market and we’re seeing there’s a great shortage of executives with their feet in established media and new media.”

WB Online founder

Prior to his CEO and prexy stripes, Moloshok was the prexy and co-founder of Warner Bros. Online and before that was senior veep of Warner Bros. marketing and advertising.

Banister previously served as executive veep of Warner Bros. Online, producing broadband interactive entertainment and oversight of strategic Internet initiatives.

Weiner was veep of planning, development and administration for Warner Bros. Online, helping launch community site AcmeCity. He also served as a senior analyst for Warner Bros.’ corporate strategic planning and development department, where he wrote the online division’s initial business plan.

Said Moloshok: “Entertaindom is our baby, it is our child. There has to be a time when it has to leave its parents. It’s a good feeling to know that the time we spent to learn about entertainment on the Web was time that was very well spent and that we’re appreciated in the online space.”

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