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).
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.”
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.
So much for “hyperlocal” news as the Next Big Thing. Ad Age Digital reports AOL is preparing to make big changes to Patch. Instead of replacing the vanishing hometown newspaper, AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong says Patch.com is now on course to take on classified ads giant Craigslist:
Another day, another shakeup within AOL’s content empire. Patch editor-in-chief Brian Farnham is off to pursue other projects. But before he goes, he wants to thank several people–so many people that it requires a 1,400-word missive on the Patch blog. In a sharp break with the current fashion, it is not devoted to the organization’s numerous failings and/or Read More
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.
Adult FriendFinder plans an IPO. [
Facebook closes in on $60-$75 billion valuation. [WSJ] Read More