FORTUNE -- More than a decade since Brad Garlinghouse helmed a start-up, the ex-AOL president is in, a way, coming full circle. Only this time, he's joining the file-sending and sharing company YouSendIt as CEO.
Though some had speculated he might go the investor route after his departure from AOL (AOL) last December -- Garlinghouse has invested in several startups over the years and served a brief stint as senior advisor at Silver Lake Partners -- he attributes his new role to the company's quiet growth.
The Campbell, California-based YouSendIt, which has raised over $48 million venture capital funding since being founded in 2003, is expected to surpass $60 million in revenue this year, a 61% increase over 2011. The company reports 30 million-plus registered users, nearly 600,000 of which pay. Some 30,000 new users sign up daily. And given that Garlinghouse has spent nearly 8 years at two big struggling tech companies -- AOL and Yahoo (YHOO) -- it's not a huge surprise he wants a clean slate to work with.
"I didn't want to be the salmon swimming upstream, and I think AOL was an experience with a lot of upstream swimming," Garlinghouse told Fortune. (He doesn't rule out the possibility that a struggling AOL may still turn itself around.) "But do I think I can create a billion dollars of value with YouSendIt or AOL? No question. There's no contest." Garlinghouse would not discuss specifics of his strategy for the company other than to say he's actively recruiting to add to the startup's team of 210 or so employees.
To this day, Garlinghouse may best be remembered in some circles as the former Yahoo senior vice president who sent out the Jerry Maguire-esque "Peanut Butter Manifesto" in 2006, an office-wide memo that chastised Yahoo for lacking vision, accountability and decisiveness, comparing the company's resource spending to spreading peanut butter (thinly) on a slice of bread. In 2009, he was recruited by Tim Armstrong to head AOL's products-driven offices in Palo Alto.
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