Armstrong said in the statement, “Our mission at AOL is to build brands people love, and we will continue to invest in and grow them.” The tall, chisled-featured 44-year-old has steered AOL since 2009 — first when it was part of the Time Warner conglomerate, then as an independent company, and since last year under Verizon. Armstrong comes from a marketing background, studying economics and sociology at Connecticut College and co-founding a newspaper in Boston.

Yahoo’s chief executive Marissa Mayer was an engineer, with a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford. But they have crossed paths before. Both were early employees at Google. He joined Google in 2000, a year after Mayer, and helped develop the AdSense platform that has been hugely lucrative for the search giant.

Armstrong is considered one of the first executives to see a future for “programmatic” online advertising, which uses software and algorithms to learn about users and deliver relevant marketing messages. At AOL, Armstrong had the task of trying to revive a company that had been the leading online service provider but was sinking fast.

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His “Project Everest” strategy reorganized AOL and helped focus on digital media, investing in the Huffington Post and other news sites, while strengthening its ad-tech services. After Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion, the telecom giant kept Armstrong as the head of a semi-autonomous unit. While he has been praised for his business and marketing acumen, there have also been some ruffled feathers.

In 2013, Armstrong was holding a meeting of AOL’s Patch hyperlocal news operations when he became unnerved by an employee using a camera. His words caught on tape — “Abel, you’re fired. Out” — sent shock waves through the company and were circulated online. He was also criticized for making comments about “distressed babies” who raised healthcare costs for the company — even though executives were not supposed to have private details about employees’ medical matters.