There was actually positive news out of the AOL camp last week when it was announced that they were selling 800 patents to rival Microsoft for $1 billion dollars. That news was quickly overshadowed by the Facetagram announcement later in the day. The patent sale to Microsoft was a great move for AOL’s bottom line however there still seems to be trouble and disorganization in their media division, which is supposed to be their bread and butter.
The Blogsphere erupted with joy last week when Michael Arrington announced that he and Crunchfund partner MG Siegler would be participating at Tech Crunch Disrupt NY. Arrington will be the main interviewer and pseudo MC again, but this year there will be a lot less speculation swarming around him. Last year during Tech Crunch Disrupt NY Arrington’s removal from the company that he founded was just starting to bubble. Relief has been in the air knowing that the next Disrupt will be hosted by the man himself. Of course PandoDaily wasn’t the least bit excited about that.
With the TechCrunch/AOL/PandoDaily headlines taking center stage many missed the fact that AOL’s Editor In Chief of their Patch properties Brian Farham was stepping down. While on the surface it seems that Farnham was happy with the progress that Patch has made under his leadership, Forbes magazine was quick to point out that AOL recently hired a chief content officer for Patch which bumped Farham down to the number two position.
More after the break
Farnham had this to say about his departure on Patch:
“I’ve never worked for a company that has been as scrutinized, criticized, and coal-raked as this one. … We have critics on Wall Street, critics in the media, local critics, national critics, the business press, the journalism reviews, bloggers, etc. There are so many that I’ve come to think of them as a single large, screechy, off-key band called BI and the Haters. It’s music to kill yourself by.”
Molly McHugh at DigitalTrends (a Yahoo partnership) raised the question:
“Farnham has plenty of good things to say about Patch in his leaving, including the claim that ‘Patch is enjoying such palpable momentum as a business.’ Then why does this feel like Patch is taking another beating?”
McHugh goes on to report that some of AOL’s investors like Starboard Value, aren’t the least bit happy with the money AOL is putting into it’s vast local network.
We remain concerned that shareholder capital will continue to be used for poorly conceived acquisitions and investments into money-losing initiatives like Patch and other Display properties,” a spokesperson for Starboard Value told Digital Trends.
While many in the industry cheered as Ariana Huffington announced the sale of AOL for $318 million dollars last year, it seems that, that transaction in particular was the start of an avalanche at AOL. McHugh and others are quick to suggest that Patch is on the chopping block and on it’s last legs as AOL tries to regroup it’s media properties again.