In a move that would make Donald Trump proud, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong fired Patch.com's creative director on a conference call Friday with close to 1,000 employees listening in.
Media blogger Jim Romenesko obtained audio of the call (embedded below) in which Armstrong quickly transitions from encouraging Patch employees who “think what’s going on right now (at Patch) is a joke” to quit to an abrupt dismissal of Abel Lenz.
As was common practice, Lenz was taking a picture during the all-hands call to post to the company’s internal blog. That’s when Armstrong lost it.
Armstrong: “Abel, put that camera down right now. Abel, you’re fired. Out.”
Just like that.
An awkward moment of silence followed before he goes on about how AOL is committed to the network of hyper-local news sites The day before, Armstrong announced Patch would cut approximately 300 of its 900 sites nationwide – and the editors who run them -- in a cost-cutting maneuver.
Lenz still identifies himself as “Creative Director at AOL Patch.com” on his Twitter profile and responded to a tweet from Romenesko regarding the incident: “I appreciate the interest Jim, but I have nothing to share. Go Patch!”
Several media outlets have reported that while Lenz’s tweet might indicate cooler heads prevailed, that he was indeed let go.
Before taking over as Charirman and CEO of AOL in 2009, Armstrong served as President of Google’s Americas Operations. He co-founded Patch in 2007, which was then acquired by AOL shortly after Armstrong landed at the company.