First came the news that AOL would be closing or selling 400 of the 900 websites
in its Patch network of hyper-local news sites. Then AOL CEO Tim Armstrong fired Patch Creative Director Abel Lenz, seemingly for taking a picture, on a conference call with 1,000 employees.
Here’s how it went down: While Armstrong was talking about how little he cared if anyone leaked information about the changes coming to Patch, he quickly stopped and said, “Abel, put that camera down right now! Abel, you’re fired. Out!” After a brief pause, Armstrong launches right back in to what he was saying.
The impromptu firing is public knowledge because someone leaked audio of the incident to Jim Romenesko’s blog
and Romenesko posted it to SoundCloud:
No word on whether Armstrong cares about that
leak. For Lenz’s part, he only offered a “No comment,” along with a photo from a bar in New York’s Union Square
Several of the comments on Romenesko’s post ask why anyone would work for AOL after this, and one commenter says Lenz routinely took photos for Patch’s internal blog for employees as part of his job.
This isn’t the first time AOL has faced down some bad press in the midst of laying off and/or firing employees. A photo of a balloon-filled conference room
where employees were given their walking papers hit the Web back during layoffs in 2011.