On the record: AOL CEO fires employee on conference call

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AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is apologetic but the damage is done after a recording leaked of him firing a creative director while on a conference call with 1000 employees.

Armstrong was talking to 1000 staff about changes to local news network Patch, which AOL intends to shrink by 30%. While giving a pep-talk about the future of the network Armstrong apparently took issue with Patch Creative Director Abel Lenz photographing him while on the call.

Two minutes into the call Armstrong is heard saying "Abel, put that camera down, now. Abel, you're fired. Out."

Although some wondered whether Armstrong was kidding, Lenz reportedly did lose his job while a thousand people listened on the line. "No comment," Lenz later tweeted about the incident. 

Armstrong has since apologized in a mass email to AOL staff, but did not rescind the termination.

“I acted too quickly and I learned a tremendous lesson and I wanted you to hear that directly from me,” Armstrong wrote in a note to staffers. “We talk a lot about accountability and I am accountable for the way I handled the situation, and at a human level it was unfair to Abel. I’ve communicated to him directly and apologized for the way the matter was handled at the meeting.”

Listen to the complete audio below. Lenz’ brutal firing starts at two minutes.


What would you do in Armstrong’s position? What about in Lenz’ shoes?

  • Hugh Montgomerie on 2013-08-14 7:50:11 AM

    What would I do in Lenz' shoes?
    I would sue AOL and that arrogant prick Armstrong for several million dollars ...

  • Don McLean on 2013-08-14 12:41:51 PM

    This is no way to handle any personnel matter especially a termination. The cost in morale of such a pathetic act is reflected directly on a company's bottom line. The inevitable legal costs which likely will follow should come out of Armstrong's pocket.

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