AOL will lay off between 250 and 500 people by closing the 300 or so local Patch sites that aren’t on course to break even any time soon. The move will bring AOL’s stable of Patch sites down to around 600. The company couldn’t provide precise numbers, which might be related to its efforts to find local partners, such as newspapers, in those markets.
In a recent earnings call, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong pledged that Patch would make money by the end of the year. “Our goal is to get Patch to profitability, and we plan to make the hard decisions to get there,” Armstrong was quoted as saying.
TechCrunch, which also is an AOL property, reports that the company has only one unit with a positive adjusted operating income, the Membership Group, which it calls “a brilliant holdover from the days of dial-up.”
Says TechCrunch writer Alex Wilhelm:
I’ll simply say that the slashing of Patch budgets in an attempt to find short-term profits appears to have led to a hollowed out, understaffed and unimpressive product. Ask yourself: When was the last time that Patch was relevant to your local life? Exactly.
Patch employees told Poynter, however, that Armstrong has assured them that AOL’s board remains committed to Patch.