A commenter named “Lipstick on Pig” chimed in on our post about Starboard Value’s preparations for a proxy duel with Tim Armstrong.
He (or she) is pretty displeased with the site’s local news organisation Patch.
Here’s a lightly edited version of the entire comment:
Here are the 2012 Patch highlights so far
They changed our compensation plan this year, and it now includes a draw like feature (meaning you have to hit certain performance targets before a bonus kicks in) that you would typically find in radio sales. In 2011, they paid us about 75 per cent of what we brought in — we had representatives that brought in $150,000 that were making $140,000 in salary + compensation, not including benefits or asset costs.
When I asked my boss about the huge losses at Patch and the fact that our cancellation rate is about 65 per cent, he said, “why do you care? You’re still getting paid aren’t you? I’m going ride this thing into the ground.” The sad thing is that’s the mentality everyone at Aol shares. No one gives a fuck about the big picture.
They promoted the former sales director of the tri-state area to lead Patch sales nationally after everyone else quit… It’s hard to retain top talent when you work on the media version of the titanic. Patch doesn’t have a clear strategy. Throughout 2011 they employed the “throw enough shit at the wall and hope something sticks” strategy and… NOTHING STUCK!!!
Patch daily deals is an utter failure. Most deals are served for a week with zero purchased!!! The product has been around since August last year and shows the utter lack of engagement on Patch sites! Self service ads were rolled out 11/2011 with a goal of 5k being sold across the network, and we sold around 500… They figured to give it another shot for a special valentines shopping guide and we sold even less.
Ad.com ads are now trafficked across the Patch network for around $.80 cost-per-mille (an advertising metric) when local advertisers are charged $200-plus CPMs for the same ad positions… I know this is hard to believe, but so is the fact that Aol dumped $160 million into Patch in 2011.
We just hired some woman blogger to try to bring some organisation the editorial side of Patch — I thought this was Brian Farnham’s job?????? We installed Rachel Fishman to babysit Brian and convince the local editors to run stores like “top pizza shop in Andover.” The content was shitty before and now it looks like its about to get even shittier.
All of the best editors have left Patch and been replace by under-qualified recent grands and by bloggers (mostly housewives and high schoolers). Most sites don’t even generate 100,000 pageviews each month!!!
Armstrong is out in the press saying sites were profitable in 2011. There were 6 sites that hit the $14,000/month 2 months in a row target. Aol judges Patch profitability with the 2 month rule — if a site is at $14,000 a month for 2 consecutive months it is deemed profitable. It’s a joke because it takes about 2 months worth of effort, and sales team blitzes to get a site profitable for 2 months.. And guess what… Everyone cancels by the middle of month, so it’s back to the drawing board — or as we say at Aol its time to throw more shit at the wall and keep our fingers crossed!!!!
AOL declined to comment.