Diva Tim Armstrong Reportedly Fires Employee For Taking His Picture Mid-Layoffs [Update]

No pictures, please, NO PICTURES. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

We knew things weren’t going great over at AOL, but we’d no idea CEO Tim Armstrong had gone full Greta Garbo.

Earlier today, Mr. Armstrong gathered the employees of Patch together on a conference call to announce hundreds of site closing and layoffs, effective next week. Now, that was never going to go over very well. But according to reports published by Jim Romanesko and TechCrunch, the CEO made things even more miserable by, it seems, abruptly firing someone (maybe a creative director) who tried to snap a photo of Mr. Armstrong: Read More


2.5 Million People Still Using AOL Internet They Got in the Mail 15 Years Ago

Ah, youth.

Once upon a time, there was a company that weaseled its way into America’s consciousness by deluging the nation with colorful discs promising 100 free hours of access to that glorious new thing, the World Wide Web.

Now, of course, we’ve all moved on to high-speed Internet, AIM is the stuff of nostalgic Twitter accounts and AOL is known largely as the place that bought the Huffington Post.

And yet, the Washington Post reports that there are still 2.5 million “AOL-brand access subscribers,” paying for $20.03 a month (on average) for dial-up and “other products and services.” That number is dropping, probably as subscribers’ credit card numbers expire. Read More

Group Chat

Facebook Tests Chat Room Feature Perfect For Tween Cyberbullying

You can't sit with us.

Have a hankering for the sluggish simplicity of Web 1.0? Facebook is here to sate your cravings with a “new” chat room feature reminiscent of ’90s AOL, according to a report from TechCrunch.

Facebook is testing the feature now with a small amount of users, TechCrunch reports. It would enable people to host chats revolving around topics, events, projects or nothing at all. Any of the host’s friends can join the chat without being invited. Read More


Booting Up: IamA Hollywood Actor Using Reddit for Self-Promotion AMA

(Photo: Imgur)

Looks like the tech industry is still poaching from Wall Street, and the WSJ is ON IT! [Wall Street Journal]

Facebook’s first quarter results are in, and it looks like the company’s mobile ad revenue is finally increasing. [New York Times]

The father-son duo of NYC-based VC firm Lerer Ventures is launching a website in conjunction with Mayors Against Illegal Guns called [TechCrunch]

Now that the neckbeard lobby is growing in influence, can Hollywood A-listers master the Reddit AMA without having another Rampart situation on their hands? [LA Times]

Now New York Senator Chuck Schumer is going after patent trolls. Perhaps he’s jealous of all Mayor Bloomberg’s startup cred? [TechCrunch]

“Hey guys, we can make TV too!” – AOL [Adweek]

Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart

Hacker Guccifer Targets Silicon Valley, Starting With the AOL Account of Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr

(Photo: KPCB)

Mystery hacker Guccifer has been terrorizing America’s political elite by hacking into their email accounts and proving that even former presidents aren’t really that great at their newfound painting hobby. Now, The Smoking Gun reports that Guccifer has begun targeting Silicon Valley. Ugh, guess that means tech really is cool now. Read More


Booting Up: Happy Trails, Andrew Mason, and Stay Far Away from the Public Markets

Just not the best fit, probably.

“What’s just depressing to me is how—and it’s not just for us, let me generalize it—the moment a company goes public the conversation shifts from how they’re trying to change the world and the product they’re building to how they’re making money.” Andrew Mason probably wasn’t ready to be the CEO of a publicly traded company. [Fast Company]

Meanwhile, at TED: Vint Cerf is dreaming of a day when we can use the Internet to communicate with aliens. Dude must make it a point to believe six impossible things before breakfast. [Gizmodo]

Former Gilt CEO Susan Lyne is now Brand Group CEO at AOL. Resident enfant terrible Alexia Tsotsis published the memo and added, “As far as we can tell, Arianna, with her Hellenic iron fist, has retained her dominion over the HuffPost stronghold, and we’ll continue to push the boundaries of what we can do until we get fired.” Noted! [TechCrunch]

In other shuffles, Federated Media founder John Battelle is once more CEO of the blog network that he founded, taking over for Deanna Brown, who is leaving for an unspecified new project. [Forbes]

Apple Fellow Guy Kawasaki is now advising Motorola. [Android Authority]

startup rundown

Startup News: Warby Parker Ate Way Too Much Salad and Sold a Lot of Monocles This Year

Katie Couric in Warby Parker (Photo:

Rose-Colored Glasses Warby Parker just released its annual report for 2012, and it’s a pretty fun slideshow to click through. The glasses empire now has 113 full-time employes and 42 part-time employees. Of those bespectacled folks, 108 have company-sponsored gym memberships. In other Warby Parker health news, 2,507 pounds of salad were eaten in the office this year. Although there are not too many exact sales figures in the package (besides the fact that 296 monocles were sold this year) a diagram on the last page shows that sales from the first quarter of the year to the last one have nearly tripled. Warby Parker says it gave out 250,000 pairs of glasses this year, some of which went to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumor Roundup: AOL Is Sunsetting QLabs, Ron Jeremy Has Friends In Tech Places

(Photo: QLabs)

Good news, Silicon Alley denizens. After much demand from fellow gossip-mongers, Betabeat has decided to resurrect your favorite recurring Friday feature. Welcome back to Rumor Roundup! Overheard a juicy tidbit about impending departures or imminent acquisitions? Dying to dish about startup blunders or frothy financing? Holler at your girls:

THE SUN SOMETIMES SETS ON THE AOL EMPIRE Multiple sources have told Betabeat that AOL Ventures plans on shutting down QLabs–the press-shy experimental think tank in Soho located at 670 Broadway. “The time frame must be darn near immediate,” one source told Betabeat, alluding to some urgency around winding down existing projects. “It’s dead,” said a source with indirect knowledge of the decision. “Their funding ran out,” the second source added, speculating that the initiative had a set funding size, but “nothing yielded.” Read More