AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL) plans to lay off as many as 500 on Friday from its local-news venture, Patch, two employees in the division told International Business Times.
CEO Tim Armstrong met with the company’s board on Thursday to recommend shuttering as many as 300 of its roughly 900 sites around the country, leaving some states with no Patch sites at all, media blogger Jim Romenesko reported.
Up to 45 percent of Patch’s roughly 1,300 employees will be axed, one of the employees told IBTimes. Many low-ranking Patch editors earn as little as $30,000 a year, considered by many to be the basic entry-level salary in journalism.
Armstrong founded Patch in 2007 and, when it was acquired two years later by AOL, he was named CEO. One Patch employee affectionately described the site network to IBTimes as "Armstrong's baby."
An AOL spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation.
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A Patch editor who listened in on a corporate conference call on Wednesday said Armstrong warned employees of a blizzard of pink slips slated for Friday, leaving a “serious climate of anxiety” at the company, the employee said.
“We really don’t know anything other than that Tim Armstrong gave us the warning for it two days in advance,” the employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told IBTimes in a phone interview.
A higher-ranking Patch employee confirmed the board meeting and coming layoffs.
Layoffs have been common at Patch in recent years as AOL has struggled to turn a profit from its massive local news project. In May 2012, the company laid off a slate of employees. Then, after appointing Steve Kalin as Patch’s new CEO, AOL said last May that more employees would lose their jobs.
AOL has been largely restructuring. It purchased Adap.TV for $405 million on Wednesday to make a stronger push into the more lucrative field of online video advertising. And in April, the media giant, which owns the Huffington Post Media Group and sites like TechCrunch and DailyFinance, shuttered its entire AOL Music division, laying off the entire staff.