Linkages

Booting Up: Uber’s Surge Pricing Pissed Off A Lot of People Saturday

Nope. (Photo: Twitter/Zach Seward)

Aol is all but done with Patch, its network of hyperlocal news websites, because CEO Tim Armstrong’s grand plan of tapping into the lucrative local advertising market didn’t materialize. [New York Times]

Saturday’s snowstorm caused Uber to implement its surge pricing model to get more drivers on the road. However, its exorbitant prices angered a lot of people. [New York Post]

Google confirmed that it has acquired Boston Dynamics, a robotic company that makes “eerily realistic animal-like machines.” We’re screwed. [CNBC

Don’t make any sudden movements: Twitter is testing a “nearby” feature to show tweets that are occurring around you. [TechCrunch]

Just 15 months into its existence, Tinder has made 500 million miserable matches. [CNet]

hyperlocal

Patch Layoffs Hit Today

Patch logo

Patch, AOL’s hyperlocal site, laid off around 350 employees today. The eliminated positions, which represent about 40 percent of the workforce, could increase to 500 if AOL doesn’t succeed in finding partners for some of the underperforming sites, ALL Things D reported this morning. For now, that leaves 150 people in limbo.

CEO Tim Armstrong was expected to announce 500 layoffs on a conference call last Friday (instead, Mr. Armstrong publicly fired a staffer for taking his picture during the call, and then sort of apologized for it this week). Read More

Sorry/Not Sorry

AOL CEO Tim Armstong Sort Of Apologizes For Firing Picture-Taking Employee Mid-Conference Call

Tim Armstrong (Photo: Patrick McMullan)

Tim Armstrong sent out a staff email today to apologize for the camera shot heard ’round the world (or at least heard by those who frequent Jim Romenesko’s blog). Because if you very publicly fire your creative director for taking your picture during a charged conference call where you are announcing bad news, as Mr. Armstrong did last Friday, the least you can do is send out an apology memo.

“I am writing you to acknowledge the mistake I made last Friday during the Patch all-hands meeting when I publicly fired Abel Lenz. It was an emotional response at the start of a difficult discussion dealing with many people’s careers and livelihoods,” Mr. Armstrong wrote to staff in an email obtained by Mr. Romensko. “I am the CEO and leader of the organization, and I take that responsibility seriously. We talk a lot about accountability and I am accountable for the way I handled the situation, and at a human level it was unfair to Abel.” Read More

hyperlocal

Patch Expected to Lay Off 500 Employees Tomorrow

Patch logo

Hard times are hitting Patch, AOL’s network of hyperlocal news sites. In an earnings call yesterday, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said that he expects to shut, sell or find partners for nearly 300 of the 900 sites, Newsday reported this morning. Additionally, Mr. Armstrong said that layoffs will eliminate up to 500 positions, reported Jim Romenesko. Details of the layoffs will be announced on Friday.

Giving employees two days to speculate about upcoming layoffs understandably rankled staffers. Read More

Earnings

Patch Is Good for AOL After All. Maybe?

Mr. Armstrong (aol.com)

Gianna Palmer is a guest blogger for Betabeat.

AOL released its fourth quarter earnings report today and not shockingly, profits are still falling. Q4 net income fell 66 percent to $22 million (23 cents a share) and revenue slipped 3 percent to $576.8 million. CEO Tim Armstrong seemed pretty happy, though.

“AOL took a large step forward in Q4 and I am very pleased with the way we ended the year,” Armstrong said.

At least one reason for Armstrong’s cheery outlook: AOL saw its ad revenue increase 10 percent to $363.8 million. To what does it attribute this growth? In part: its hyperlocal news effort Patch. Read More