600,000 Listen to AOL's Tim Armstrong Fire Someone During Conference Call (Audio)
The recording captures the CEO and Patch champion pausing as he announces changes to the hyperlocal site to fire its creative director for taking an unauthorized photo.
Tim Armstrong's apparent spur-of-the-moment decision to fire a high-level executive in the middle of a conference call with his far-flung staff has been heard by more than 600,000 people.
The AOL CEO got on the phone with 1,000 employees of Patch, the hyper-local news network he founded, to explain his radical revamping of the service -- of the 1,000 existing sites, the exec said, the plan was to focus on about half of those. The other half would either close or be shifted to a partnership model, with hundreds of layoffs expected over the next seven days.
In the midst of that description, though, Abel Lenz, the network's creative director, apparently tried to take Armstrong's photo -- and here's a transcript of what happened next, according to audio posted by media blogger Jim Romenesko:
"If you think what’s going on right now is a joke, and you want to joke around about it, you should pick your stuff up and leave Patch today, and the reason is, and I’m going to be very specific about this, is Patch from an experience -- Abel, put that camera down right now! Abel, you’re fired. Out! (Momentary pause.) If you guys think that AOL has not been committed to Patch, and won’t stay committed to Patch, you’re wrong. The company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars, the board of directors is committed, I’m committed. ..."
There's been no word from Lenz, who posted "No comment" to the social network Path after the call. And the audio has been played more than 600,000 times.