AOL Patch began a mass layoff today, with approximately 350 workers getting a pink slip.
The financially struggling hyperlocal news service announced last week that it was downsizing; affected employees were notified today of their status in the company in a series of conference calls.
About 150 more workers will likely be shown the door soon. If all the layoffs for forward as planned, about half of the staff will wind up losing their jobs when all is said and done.
Patch.com was launched in December 2007 by a range of tech investors and ex-media people (including Tim Armstrong himself) and was purchased by AOL in June 2011.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong originally said that 400 Patch sites would be shuttered, but according to the Wall Street Journal, there will only be 150 closures. About 600 will reportedly be kept open, while another 150 will partner with outside websites for content.
Armstrong got a lot of bad press for impulsively firing AOL Patch.com Creative Director Abel Lenz in the middle of a conference call last week during which he was discussing the impending workforce cutbacks.
In a statement about the Patch layoffs, AOL said:
“Patch, as previously announced, is taking steps to move to profitability. Patch’s strategy will be to focus resources against core sites and partner in towns that need additional resources. Additionally, there are sites that we will be consolidating or closing.
“Patch has become an important brand across many towns in America. The Patch team across the country has served and will continue to serve communities with journalism and technology platforms. Unfortunately, with these changes we are announcing today, we will be reducing a substantial number of Patch positions. The people leaving Patch have played a significant role in making Patch an integral part of the communities it serves – and we thank them for their hard work and passion for Patch.”
The Hartford Courant reports that “In its Aug. 7 earnings conference call, Armstrong said Patch sites would be segmented into three groups, split approximately into thirds: ones that have been successful in both traffic and revenue, emerging sites that had all the signs of being successful, and ones that may have traffic or revenue but not both.”
Do you read or have you ever read the Patch website in your area?