ICQ Gets New British CEO

AOL-Time Warner has appointed a British CEO to its Israeli subsidiary ICQ. Mark Bernstein will replace the Israeli joint CEOs Ariel Yarnitzky and Avi Schecter who have resigned.

ICQ develops instant messaging platforms and is based in Tel Aviv. The company falls under the responsibility of Steven McArthur, AOL vice president of messaging operations, which includes both ICQ and AOL Messenger.

McArthur said Bernstein had been brought into the AOL group for the ICQ position and that he has vast experience in the Internet sector. Bernstein was previously with the online community GeoCities, among others.

Bernstein will work four days a week in Tel Aviv, and return to his London home for the rest of the time, McArthur said. He will be charged with the continuing development of ICQ's strengths as well as the integration of work in other AOL units.

McArthur declined to comment on whether ICQ could be moved abroad or merged into other AOL instant messaging operations.

In 2001, ICQ had impressive revenues of $150 million, mostly from advertising on various messaging products, but the retiring CEOs confirmed that the company was hit by the 2002 decline in Internet advertising. "There was a global slowdown, and it obviously affected us as well," they stated.

Nonetheless, the two said the company met all its commercial targets for the year and made all the milestones set in the purchase - meaning the original shareholders received the entire sum set at the time in cash.