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AOL Firing: CEO Lets Employee Go While on Major Conference Call

Image: AOL Firing: CEO Lets Employee Go While on Major Conference Call AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.

Tuesday, 13 Aug 2013 06:08 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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A firing at AOL is making the news because the company's CEO let an employee go while on a conference call with about 1,000 people.

Business Insider reports CEO Tim Armstrong, on top of announcing 300 job cuts at AOL's local news business Patch in the last week, was on a large conference call when he said to Patch Creative Director Abel Lenz, “Abel, put that camera down, now. Abel, you’re fired. Out.”

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TechCrunch, which is owned by AOL, published an internal memo in which Armstrong apologized for his abrupt firing of Lenz.

“I am writing you to acknowledge the mistake I made last Friday during the Patch all-hands meeting when I publicly fired Abel Lenz,” TechCrunch reprinted from the memo. “It was an emotional response at the start of a difficult discussion dealing with many people’s careers and livelihoods. 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. I’ve communicated to him directly and apologized for the way the matter was handled at the meeting.”

It’s emotional at Patch these days because sales were down, as reported in the Business Insider story that quoted an email from Patch’s U.S. sales head Jim Lipuma saying, “Over the last 5 sales days, we have amassed our worst results of the year.”

Business Insider gave credit to Jim Romenesko for keeping on top of the Patch situation in his media blog. The site ran Lipuma’s entire email, and also got the audio recording of Armstrong’s firing of Lenz.

Romenesko’s blog pulled in comments on Patch, both for and against the AOL company.

Lorraine Swanson stood up for Patch: “To all the Patch employees who feel compelled to leak audio and memos to the media, if you hate the company so much, LEAVE. There are many of us who want to be at Patch and stick it out. STOP STABBING YOUR COLLEAGUES IN THE BACK. Just go.”

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Related stories:

AOL Said to Be Closing or Finding Partners for 400 Patch Websites

AOL Ad Revenues Jump, But Stock Falls on Profit Worries

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