Ross Levinsohn and Jon Miller said that if they were to start a media company, they would focus on digital video
When Ross Levinsohn left Yahoo earlier this year after being edged out for the top job by former Google executive Marissa Mayer, it was good news for AOL, one of Yahoo's chief rivals.
At least that's the take on the situation offered Wednesday by Jon Miller, former AOL chairman and CEO and former News Corp. chief digital officer, at Business Insider's Ignitiion conference in New York.
"I think it actually creates an opportunity for AOL," Miller said.
"[Yahoo] is probably not going hard down the digital media path that Ross would have gone,” he explained.
That will leave AOL free to continue pushing original content, a strategy Levinsohn would have embraced at Yahoo.
Of course, Miller has a dog in the fight. Levinsohn (left) joined Yahoo from Fuse Capital, where he partnered with Miller (below right) to back digital startups. Miller had also publicly endorsed Levinsohn's bid to become CEO of Yahoo.
There has been speculation that the two might partner on a new venture together now that they both have been "freed" from their big media homes.
Both men had similar answers when they were asked by moderator and Business Insider Deputy Editor Nicholas Carlson what kind of media company they might start if they found a deep-pocketed backer — digital video.
"I’ve been a big believer that this video thing is going to be a big deal…we’re still in the early stages," Miller said.
For his part, Levinsohn insisted that he bears no ill-will toward his former home, although he did hint that he might have taken Yahoo in a different direction than Mayer. In interviews recently, Mayer has indicated that she will focus on making Yahoo a mobile player, something that will require a larger investment in technology.
"We have a terrific set of assets on the web–all the things people want to do on their mobile phone," Mayer said at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Event in Palo Alto earlier this month. "The interesting thing is when you look at what people want to do on their phone, it's mail, weather, check stock quotes and news. That's Yahoo's business. This is a huge opportunity for us because we have the content and all the information people want on their phones."
Like Tim Armstrong has done at AOL with his focus on hyper-local news-site Patch and the acquisition of Huffington Post, Levinsohn seemed more interested in making Yahoo a destination for video and news.
"Premium content matters," Levinsohn said.
"I think Yahoo is an amazing company — I haven't changed my mind about that — with a lot of users and you need to create something that’s distinctive…my goal was how do we create more distinctive things."