By Michael Learmonth
Neal Ashe, the longtime CEO of CNET who became president of CBS Interactive, is leaving CBS, according to a statement issued after an Ad Age query today.
Ad Age had learned from people familiar with the matter that Mr. Ashe was leaving and that CBS has begun a search for a replacement to run the division, which includes CNET, CBS.com, TV.com, Chow and Urbanbaby.
Mr. Ashe helped engineer CBS’s $1.8 billion purchase of CNET in 2008 and later succeeded digital chief Quincy Smith to head up all of digital at CBS.
"Neil has helped make CBSi into the successful and profitable business it is today," the company said in a statement. "Looking out into 2011, we are working on a relaxed time frame to name a successor to his post, as he embarks on his next great thing."
In addition to an external search, internal candidates to succeed Mr. Ashe include CBS Senior VP of Strategic Development Zander Lurie, another longtime CNET executive, and Anthony Soohoo, who heads the entertainment division, including distribution for CBS television on the web.
It was not immediately clear where Mr. Ashe is going after CBS.