Well this is stone cold. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong appears to have just summarily fired one of his executives in front of about 1,000 coworkers who were on a conference call about layoffs at its hyper-local news network, Patch.
AOL is getting ready to pull the plug on hundreds of Patch sites in an effort to restructure the troubled project. Jim Romenesko reports that about three minutes into a companywide call this morning explaining the changes, Armstrong abruptly and publicly gave Patch Creative Director Abel Lenz the boot. His infraction? Pulling out a camera, apparently. Here's how one tipster described the scene to Romenesko:
"Abel, put that camera down. You're fired. Out," Armstrong said. After a pause of about five seconds, he then continued the call as though nothing had happenedThen after about five more minutes of talking about whatever, he threw in "and the reason I fired Abel before was I don't want anyone taking pictures of this meeting." He invoked some kind of comparison to a sports team's locker room.
But he seriously fired someone live on a conference call with the entire company ... a call that informed us that no one would be laid off today but that instead the layoffs (sorry, "impacts") would happen at different junctures next week depending on the success of finding "partners" for moribund Patch sites.
Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson offers up a bit more context, reporting that Armstrong complained how media leaks were making Patch look like "loserville."
"That's why Abel was fired," the CEO reportedly said. "We can't have people that are in the locker room giving the game plan away."
And you thought Obama was tough on leakers.
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