AOL’s Patch news site to lay off up to 500

NEW YORK — AOL Inc. is laying off up to half the workforce at its Patch local news sites and shuttering or consolidating roughly 150 of the 900 sites while looking for partners for others.

Up to 500 of Patch’s 1,000 employees will go in the layoffs, which started on Friday with 350 people getting pink slips. In all, the layoffs amount to about 9 percent of AOL’s total workforce of 5,500.

AOL Inc. CEO Tim Armstrong co-founded Patch, an ambitious experiment in local news meant to compete with newspapers, in 2007. AOL bought it in 2009 after Armstrong had taken over the helm of the New York-based Internet company.

Patch ran into the same problems that newspapers had already discovered — that it’s expensive to cover local news. For about an 18-month period in 2010 and 2011, Patch was the biggest hirer of journalists, just as they were being laid off from struggling U.S. newspapers, said media analyst Ken Doctor of Outsell Inc.

AOL does not break out Patch’s finances in its earnings reports, but Doctor said it was obviously “a financial drag on earnings.” He estimates that AOL has invested more than $100 million into Patch over time.

In a statement, AOL said that “Patch’s strategy will be to focus resources against core sites and partner in sites that need additional resources.”

Shares of AOL, which also owns the Huffington Post and TechCrunch, fell 31 cents to $35.14 in midday trading.

More in Herald Business Journal

Boeing could help launch orbiting space station for the moon

“We should have a lunar base by now. What the hell has been going on?”

How the Airbus-Bombardier alliance could squeeze Boeing

“It makes Boeing look like they’ve been playing tic tac toe against a chess master,” says an analyst.

More self-awareness could help build a better medical system

Marcy Shimada of Edmonds Family Medicine writes the second in a series about fixing our health care system.

Scratch-and-sniff brochures aimed to prevent disaster

Puget Sound Energy has distributed more than a million scratch-and-sniff brochures to… Continue reading

Jewelry, accessories store Fuego opens second site in Snohomish County

Northwest-based jewelry, accessories and gifts store Fuego opened a new outlet store… Continue reading

Extreme cleaning company Steri-Clean opens in Mukilteo

The first Washington franchise of the Steri-Clean company will celebrate its grand… Continue reading

Justices to hear government’s email dispute with Microsoft

A lower court ruled emails in a drug case couldn’t be searched because they were in Ireland.

Negotiators give up hope of rewriting NAFTA this year

A fourth round of negotiations between the U.S., Mexico and Canada ended in mutual exasperation.

Facebook acquires TBH, an anonymous teen compliment app

TBH, short for “to be honest,” prompts users to answer polls about people they know.

Most Read