Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

400 Patch Sites on the Block, AOL Says

What will AOL do with Patch, its controversial foray into local news?

CEO Tim Armstrong is clear: He’s going to keep Patch, and says the operation will be turning a profit by the end of the year.

What’s unclear is what’s going to happen between now and then.

Here’s what we know right now: During Wednesday’s earnings call, Armstrong announced that AOL would “auction into partnerships or potentially exit” a number of Patch’s 900 local sites, and that the company would “remove more cost out of Patch going forward.”

Those moves would “negatively impact traffic and revenue,” he told investors, but would “meaningfully improve profitability and AOL’s profitability.”

Not surprisingly, AOL workers quickly surmised that this was corporatespeak for “mass layoffs,” which may certainly be true. But during a call with Patch employees today, Armstrong insisted that AOL had yet to decide the fate of 400 Patch sites, and expected to figure that out within the week.

So: Sometime in the next few days, AOL will begin shuttering many of its Patch sites, and may keep others open via some sort of partnership. In any event, it seems clear that lots of people will lose their jobs.

Two jobs are already gone. As Business Insider reported yesterday, Patch CEO Steve Kalin and “Chief Content Officer” Rachel Feddersen are out. Armstrong announced that Bud Rosenthal, who has been running AOL’s subscription/dial-up business since a February reorg, is now running Patch.

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle