AOL’s Leonsis: AOL is Great. AOL Staff: No, We’re Not


Interesting exchange on Ted Leonsis’s blog in which Ted lists several reasons why AOL should get more respect and AOL employees (mostly) tell Ted he’s hallucinating.  Time Warner PR is no doubt cringing with each new employee comment, but we actually think this is healthy.  Time Warner should be listening a lot more carefully to what AOL employees are saying, and if this is the way to get them to listen, then great.  Full exchange on Ted’s Take.  Excerpts below:

Ted Leonsis:

I have to smile and chuckle when I read petroleum-based products such as the NY Times sneer and call AOL “troubled” or “irrelevant” or “lacking a clear future”.  Hmmm.

AOL has 200 plus million unique monthly visitors around the globe.

AOL and its subsidiaries reach 95% of all US-based internet users. We have a hundred million unique visitors in the US alone and great brands such as AIM, MapQuest and Moviefone….  (More Ted and employee reactions after jump)

See Also: AOL Mass Layoff Date: October 16
How AOL Blew Q2

AOL has billions and billions and billions of page views.

AOL has billions of annual profits.

AOL has a billion plus dollars of free cash flow.

AOL has growth rates in double digits for ad sales.

AOL has a growing audience.

AOL has a huge lead in building out third party ad networks via

How is that newspaper growing up there in NYC? Are ad sales good? Is circulation booming? 🙂 Are revenues up? Are investors happy?

I am just saying 🙂

(Purported) AOL Employees:

Ted, it’s too bad you’ll never know how it feels to be one of the every-workers who frequently wonders about the safety of their job, and the direction of a seemingly clueless company.

I’m sorry Ted but I have to agree. If all you say are true, (and they are if you spin the numbers right) why isn’t there a single write up recently that takes a positive spin on AOL’s future? Our traffic is not up, it’s actually down. Our PV/UV is low, AIM traffic has flattened, and most of our UV and PV are from dial-up customers which is in a nose-dive. But these numbers we don’t like to talk about in public.

It seems we’ve had a new strategy every year. And I’ve supported each one of them. But as one of those employees who wonder every October whether I’m going to have a job come Christmas, it is very difficult to share in your enthusiasm. Most of us don’t have the stocks and options to retire on. But I believe that it truly is ’employment as will’ and if we are not happy, we should work elsewhere.

Most of us see the announcement of HQ moving to NYC as the nail in the coffin for AOL’s online portal/product/content business.

6 months ago, Randy Falco said,in response to comments about low employee morale, “We are done with layoffs. Ron and I are here to grow the company.” So, how are employees supposed to trust our new management?

You really have to walk to buildings to get the true feel of what’s going on. When is the latest time AOL’s top management really talked to the employees, walked the floors, commute to work, eat a meal in the cafeteria like every other employee?

Employees want to be told what’s going on even if it’s bad news. But what we learn, we get from outside sources like Valleywag and NYTimes [and Silicon Alley Insider!].

It would be nice to know our executives for a change. And that being an executive at AOL means more than sitting on the 5th floor of HQ, building an executive dining room, getting driven around in a limo, rerouting the employee shuttle and taking private jets.

…There’s something I don’t understand. Successful business don’t annually lay off large numbers of employees (or suffer through never-ending rumours of layoffs). Successful businesses aren’t plagued with constant rumours of their demise and irrelevance.

If we’re really that successful, there’s no excuse for the rumours, the layoffs and the uncertainty. Like I said, I just don’t understand it.