It’s Nothing Personal: Hundreds Of Patch Employees Laid-Off During Conference Call

Conference Call Canning.

Conference Call Canning.

If you’re going to fire hundreds of employees, at least have the guts to do so individually. After years of dedicated, time-consuming work, hundreds of online media employees were let go during a series of conference calls last week; taking “it’s nothing personal” to an entirely new level.

On Wednesday, hundreds of Patch editors were laid off during what can only be described as an impersonal rehearsed conference call. The lay-offs leave only a few hundred employees to maintain more than 900 hyper-local sites, the New York Times reports.

With hundreds of employees across the country, maybe it’s safe to assume the higher-ups at Patch just wanted to get the bad news over with so they used a conference call? But still, such an informal “thanks for your work, but you’re no longer needed” message has to sting.

Still, the cold touch and complete disregard to the editors and advertising sales representatives is alarming. Although, maybe not totally unexpected. Remember when CEO Tim Armstrong fired an employee during an all-company call last year?

Media blogger Jim Romenesko posted a transcript and recording of the conference call on his site.

Patch Chief Operations Officer, Leigh Zarelli Lewis provided the straight-forward firing to employees:

“Patch is being restructured in connection with the creation of a joint venture with Hale Global. Hale Global has decided which Patch employees will receive an offer of employment to move forward in accordance with their vision for Patch and which will not. Unfortunately, your role has been eliminated and you will no longer have a role at Patch and today will be your last day of employment with the company.”

The news of lay-offs, billed as a reorganization, came just weeks after the company was sold to Hale Global. It remains to be seen what exactly Hale has in store for the remnants of Patch.

Wednesday’s cuts come after another significant round of lay-offs in August. However, many of those employees were allowed to stay on with the company until October.

The hyper-local news organization was once a shining star for AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. Armstrong helped to create Patch and later assisted in its purchase by AOL in 2009.

In December, Armstrong seemed optimistic on the future of Patch, saying the company had more digital traffic than many traditional media players.

Still, after losing hundreds of millions of dollars, Patch’s time was clearly running out this last December. After making a pledge to AOL investors that Patch would be profitable by the end of 2013, Armstrong was forced to go back on this promise and the majority stake of the company was sold to Hale Global.

Listen when Patch lays off hundreds of employees on a conference call [SFGate]