AOL CEO Claims He Apologized to Fired Patch Employee | Adweek AOL CEO Claims He Apologized to Fired Patch Employee | Adweek
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AOL CEO Says He Apologized to Fired Patch Employee

Tim Armstrong sends staffers a memo on the firing

Photo: Getty Images

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said in a memo to staffers on Tuesday that he has apologized to the Patch exec he fired during a company call on the state of the hyper-local news organization.

The story was first reported by AllThingsD and Business Insider:

"I am writing you to acknowledge the mistake I made last Friday during the Patch all-hands meeting when I publicly fired Abel Lenz," Armstrong said in the memo, which AOL provided to Adweek. "It was an emotional response at the start of a difficult discussion dealing with many people’s careers and livelihoods. I am the CEO and leader of the organization, and I take that responsibility seriously. We talk a lot about accountability and I am accountable for the way I handled the situation, and at a human level it was unfair to Abel. I’ve communicated to him directly and apologized for the way the matter was handled at the meeting."

An audio clip of Armstrong firing Lenz was surfaced on Aug. 10 by media blogger Jim Romenesko, who reported that Lenz was dismissed after taking a picture of the AOL exec. Listen to the call below:


In his note on Tuesday, Armstrong explained that Lenz had been disciplined for similar misconduct before. "Abel had been told previously not to record a confidential meeting, and he repeated that behavior on Friday, which drove my actions," Armstrong wrote, adding that company meetings should be kept confidential so employees can speak freely. 

Here's the full memo:

AOLers -


I am writing you to acknowledge the mistake I made last Friday during the Patch all-hands meeting when I publicly fired Abel Lenz.  It was an emotional response at the start of a difficult discussion dealing with many people's careers and livelihoods.  I am the CEO and leader of the organization, and I take that responsibility seriously.  We talk a lot about accountability and I am accountable for the way I handled the situation, and at a human level it was unfair to Abel.  I’ve communicated to him directly and apologized for the way the matter was handled at the meeting.


My action was driven by the desire to openly communicate with over a thousand Patch employees across the US.  The meeting on Friday was the second all-hands we had run that week and people came to Friday's meeting knowing we would be openly discussing some of the potential changes needed at Patch.  As you know, I am a firm believer in open meetings, open Q&A, and this level of transparency requires trust across AOL.  Internal meetings of a confidential nature should not be filmed or recorded so that our employees can feel free to discuss all topics openly.  Abel had been told previously not to record a confidential meeting, and he repeated that behavior on Friday, which drove my actions.


We have been through many difficult situations in turning around AOL and I have done my best to make the best decisions in the long-term interest of the employees and the company. On Friday I acted too quickly and I learned a tremendous lesson and I wanted you to hear that directly from me.


We have tough decisions and work to do on Patch, but we're doing them thoughtfully and as openly as we can.  At AOL, we had strong earnings last week and we’re adding one of the best companies in the world to the team.  AOL is in a great position, and we’ll keep moving forward.  - TA

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