Hey, did you hear the one about the guy who was fired on a 1,000-person conference call?
Who you're listening to above is AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, informing over 1,000 Patch employees that AOL would be pulling the plug on 400 of the failing division's websites. This call was depressing, but not altogether surprising. AOL has reportedly lost over $300 million trying to build up the “hyper-local” Patch.
What was surprising was when Armstrong fired creative director Abel Lenz. Right in the middle of the conference call. Lenz apparently had taken a picture of the meeting in progress, which upset Armstrong (who had just finished a rant about transparency because irony is dead).
Firing an employee while delivering awful news. Talk about a dingleberry-flavored cherry on top of a poo sundae.
Here's the transcript, via Romenesko :
‘There’s a couple of things I want you guys to realize and really think about and sink in, and if it doesn’t sink in and you don’t believe what I’m about to say, I’m going to ask you to leave Patch. And I don’t mean that in a harsh way; I mean that in the way of we have to get Patch into a place where it’s going to be successful and it’s going to be successful for a long time. There’s a whole bunch of towns that are going to be successful but we need the whole enterprise to be successful.
‘The first one is, I will take full credit and full responsibility for anything that’s not right at Patch. If the coffee machine doesn’t work, or a town doesn’t work — anything that’s going wrong at Patch you can blame me for it. I founded Patch, we brought it into AOL, we’ve been very busy turning around AOL overall.
‘I don’t care what the press says, I don’t care if people leak information. I’ve already lived through that at AOL — when I took over AOL — so if you need somebody to blame for why we’re making changes at Patch you can blame me. I take full responsibility.
‘I also want to clear up the fact that leaking information or anything around Patch isn’t going to bother me, doesn’t bother me. I’m not changing direction. When you hear about what we’re doing at Patch it’s very serious and it’s very forward-thinking and anything that happens around Patch isn’t going to change that direction.
‘Third thing is if you don’t use Patch as a product and you’re not invested in Patch, you owe it to everybody else at Patch to leave. If you think what’s going on right now is a joke, and you want to joke around about it, you should pick your stuff up and leave Patch today, and the reason is, and I’m going to be very specific about this, is Patch from an experience Abel, put that camera down right now. Abel, you’re fired. Out! [10-second pause].
‘If you guys think that AOL has not been committed to Patch, and won’t stay committed to Patch, you’re wrong. The company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars, the board of directors is committed, I’m committed.’