AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has since apologized for publicly firing employee Abel Lenz during a conference call last week, but according to new reports, Armstrong’s reason for firing his former colleague had little do with his photography during the now infamous meeting and instead, his support over the company’s new venture: Patch 2.0.
Abel Lenz, who spent two years as a creative director for AOL’s brainchild, Patch.com, was unceremoniously fired Friday during a conference call regarding mass layoffs headed by Armstrong. In the leaked audio clip, Armstrong can be heard firing Abel only seconds after instructing him to cease taking photos, a task one source is claiming is not the true reason for Lenz’s controversial dismissal.
“We're told that Lenz, based in New York, would always take pictures of big speakers during conference calls, and later post the images on Patch's internal Website, so the 1,000 or so remote workers could see them. He wasn't doing anything unusual at the time,” Business Insider reported Monday. According to a source, the company’s Patch 2.0 project may have been the real reason for Lenz’s abrupt firing.
“According to people who were on the call, Armstrong called out Patch 2.0 as being awful. That's why I thought it was odd that, of all the people he called out and fired on the call, it was the guy who was responsible for building and launching Patch 2.0, an update that Armstrong clearly was not happy with,” a source revealed, claiming Armstrong allegedly “[crapped] all over” the upcoming Patch project following the controversial incident.
According to the report, Lenz was brought in to help redesign Patch (a collection of over 1,000 hyper local and remotely run news websites) in 2012 in order to work on the site's Web and mobile design.
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Armstrong apologized for his behavior in an email published by Gawker Tuesday, calling the public firing a mistake. “It was an emotional response at the start of a difficult discussion dealing with many people's careers and livelihoods," he said. "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.”