AOL Is Cutting Up To 500 Jobs, Closing Hundreds Of Patch Sites

The hammer has started to come down on Patch, AOL’s network of hyperlocal news outlets. CEO Tim Armstrong promised cuts, and now they’ve arrived.

Brendan Mcdermid / Reuters

The major changes to Patch that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong promised on the last earnings call are starting today, and they include a massive round of layoffs.

In total, AOL could cut up to 500 jobs at the network of hyperlocal news sites, with 350 of those cuts coming today, according to a report by AllThingsD. The other 150 jobs are reportedly still in limbo as AOL finds other media companies to operate some of the underperforming sites, the report said.

AOL has around 900 of the hyperlocal Patch blogs, which Armstrong broke into three major categories on the last earnings call: essentially, those doing well, those with a potential to do well, and everyone else.

“In a rough justice manner, it’s about one-third, one-third, one-third overall. So one-third are basically very sort of good-looking things, but viable business models that we want to pursue. One-third look like they’re going to get to that first bucket. And one-third basically look like, in the time frame and focus we have right now in getting to profitability, it’s going to be tough for us to get there on a time frame standpoint.”

The company plans on keeping 540 of those sites operational, according to AllThingsD.

The shuttering comes amid some major changes for Patch as it tries to find a functioning business. Mark Josephson, Patch’s head of revenue, left just last month, as BuzzFeed earlier reported.

Still, AOL has put more than $100 million into Patch, even though the company’s media operations lost money last year. On the company’s first-quarter earnings call, Armstrong said he believes Patch could be profitable in the fourth quarter of this year.

AOL has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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