Abel Put That Camera Down: Flash Termination at Patch

On August 9, Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL held a meeting with Patch employees to announce that layoffs would be occurring within the next 7 days in order to bring Patch/AOL back to profitability.

During the meeting, Mr. Armstrong made 3 very basic statements regarding the layoffs:

  • He was fully accountable for all of the errors that were made under his leadership. “Blame it on me”
  • Media leaks didn’t bother him. “I don’t care if you leak information…leaking information or anything around Patch doesn’t bother me…”
  • He required employee re-dedication to the product. “If you don’t use Patch as a product.. you owe it to everybody else at Patch to leave.”

We all know that layoffs are very difficult for all parties involved, and Mr. Armstrong could have finessed the language a bit, but up to that point he was making valid business points. That is, until an employee took a picture.

Via Jim Romensko

“Abel, put that camera down. You’re fired. Out,” Armstrong said. After a pause of about five seconds, he then continued the call as though nothing had happened.

Then after about five more minutes of talking about whatever, he threw in “and the reason I fired Abel before was I don’t want anyone taking pictures of this meeting.” He invoked some kind of comparison to a sports team’s locker room.

This is curious for a couple of reasons. The first being that firing someone in front of a group of employees who are unsure of their own futures is like lighting a match in a kitchen with a faulty stove. It may or may not blow up, but why take the chance? Additionally, he mentioned several times that media leaks didn’t bother him, yet he fires a director for taking a picture? It’s puzzling to say the least.

But, as always, we may only have a small glimpse of what is probably a much larger picture.

You can listen for yourself here:

[via ValleyWag]

UPDATE: Mr. Armstrong has publicly apologized.

UPDATE 2: According to Jim Romenesko, 40% of the staff is being let go.

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