Saturday, August 17, 2013

AOL’s Patch Is Purging Staff, But Here’s How...

AOL’s Patch Is Purging Staff, But Here’s How ‘Hyperlocal’ Can Work

AOL’s long struggle with Patch is in a decisive phase. Hundreds of layoffs are expected by the weekend as AOL looks to pare 400 local Patch sites from its current roster of 900 in a bid to reach profitability by the end of the year.

As AOL CEO Tim Armstrong delivered the news to staff earlier this week, he paused to fire Patch creative director Abel Lenz for recording the proceedings with a camera phone. He later apologized, calling it an “emotional response,” but clearly the stress of making Patch work is getting to Mr. Armstrong.

AOL has invested hundreds of millions in Patch since it was acquired in 2009, making the nationwide network of community sites the biggest-budget bet on the notion of “hyperlocal” by any media company. Given its very public struggles, you’d be forgiven for wondering if the idea of “hyperlocal” as a media business works anywhere. Well, it does and hyperlocal is far from dead. It’s just a lot smaller, perhaps, than AOL would like it to be.

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