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.
Facebook and its underwriters face IPO backlash, the SEC indicates it will target VaR, and more in today’s Wall Street roundup.
Facebook flap: Research teams at Morgan Stanley and other Facebook underwriters cut earnings projections after updated regulatory filings on May 9 showed Zuck & Co. struggling to make money on mobile—and those Read More
Annals of Sent Mail
We can’t say we envy whoever’s behind the wheel of Patch, AOL’s network of hyperlocal news sites. With a torrent of bad press; a prettier, more popular sister in The Huffington Post, and executives resorting to (allegedly) defending the company in the Business Insider comments section, it’s likely Team Patch in need of a morale boost. But it’s hard to know how to make a generous statement of your confidence in the company without awakening some sales exec’s dormant inner frat boy.
That has such monetization strategies in it!
AOL struck a deal with American Express to use Serve, which is AmEx’s competitor to PayPal, on Patch Deals, which is Patch’s competitor to Groupon, according to a press release sent out this morning. And we bet their user-feedback is much more advanced than the originals.
Hearst magazine websites Read More
“An explosion of online news sources in recent years has not produced a corresponding increase in reporting, particularly quality local reporting, a federal study of the media has found,” wrote New York Times reporters, Jeremy W. Peters and Brian Stelter. They then high-fived David Carr, hate re-tweeted a Patch story about Read More
The LA Times published a softball appraisal of AOL glocal news behemoth Patch this weekend, which attributes the site’s take-off to the recruitment of “seasoned news veterans.”
Patch’s first round of hires were fresh journalism school graduates who quickly burned out or turned over, James Rainey reports. Three South California-area Patch editors quit Read More
After receiving approximately $50 million in funding from AOL, the hyperlocal news network Patch.com went on a hiring spree that earned it the ire of alt-weeklies and the nickname ”Poach” from one rival.
Trepidation about the rapid rise of Patch hasn’t been limited to its competitors. Though few other companies are making widespread Read More
Today, June 11, AOL annouced that it is acquiring Patch, the New York–based start-up, as well as Going.com, a nightlife event guide “for people who love to go out.” Patch’s sites, which currently cover six towns in New Jersey (with four more in development, according to Patch’s chief executive Jon Brod) are Read More