Patching up? Tim Armstrong's hyperlocal-news baby has numbers to brandish against hostile shareholders
Patch is under mounting pressure to start making money after reportedly losing somewhere between $100 million and $147 million in 2011. Starboard said in a recent report that it does not believe Patch is a "viable business."(1)
Tim Armstrong trumpets AOL successes, urges 'kaizen' spiritual-business approach on employees in New Year's Eve missive
Armstrong also discussed the company's "talent culture," which has suffered from something of a mini-exodus lately.
"A lesson for 2012 will be the need to shift our talent culture from one where talent changes result from brand changes to one where talent is a corporate asset that we grow within our streamlined stable of brands," he wrote. "I would expect us to continue to be a very attractive place for the world’s best talent and a place that our current talent will see opportunities for growth and exciting challenges."
The road ahead for The Huffington Post: Nine months and a merger later, 'Capital-J Journalism' is still a work in progress
Arianna Huffington and two of her generals in the battle to professionalize The Huffington Post, Tim O'Brien and Peter Goodman, told Capital that since the merger with AOL, they'd hired 200 journalists, created a 10-person desk of news editors, and were publishing between 50 and 60 originally reported, real news items a day, with several large features a week clocking in at more than 3,000 words.(3)
Here's a short play, set in 1997:
Scene: Journalist, applying for a job, is seated across a table at a moderately priced Italian restaurant from an editor who's just taken over the Arts and Entertainment section of a respected national publication.
Journalist: The thing is, I really admire all your writers—but I mostly write about the downtown music scene, and I've never really seen more than little 200-word squibs about that stuff in Publication X.
Buck Wolf is a 46-year-old reporter who’s specialized in weird news for the last 13 years and believes stories of the abnormal, the oddball and the freakish should be reported with the same vigor as more traditional news, an approach that has won his desk attention from more mainstream publications, like the Daily News, NPR, and Time, all of whom have picked up AOL Weird News stories since the desk’s creation in 2009 but would never pick up stories on similar topics from dodgy supermarket tabloids.
His approach also puts the desk on equal footing with AOL’s more traditional areas of coverage, like politics and world news.
It's not a marriage, this purchase of The Huffington Post by AOL. It's more like Arianna Huffington and Tim Armstrong have decided to bunk up so they can move to nicer real estate at lower prices.
What Huffington Post started out as—a Drudge Report for the left with an overlay of "columns" by influential people who saw posting opinion pieces to the site as analogous to making television appearances to talk about those same things (seldom a paid proposition after all!)—is not really what it is today.
Rather than update its slowly dying subscription business, AOL's Tim Armstrong is trying to wean the company from that revenue stream, focusing instead on a content strategy for the web. They don't refer to this as a turnaround. They call it a "start-around."(1)