Tim Armstrong, CEO of former internet giant AOL, is at the centre of a conference call controversy after he sacked an employee midway through a conference call with 1,000 other staff members.
The former Google executive interrupted the conference call to admonish creative director Abel Lenz for filming him during the call.
In what must go down as one of the briefest, not to mention most public, dismissals ever, Armstrong said: “Abel, put that camera down right now. Abel, you’re fired! Out!”
And that was the end of Abel at AOL.
In a scene that sounds like it’s been lifted from The Office, a few seconds of awkward silence followed before Armstrong carried on speaking to the group.
A public apology
Although it looks unlikely that Abel Lenz will be given his job back, he’d already been reprimanded for filming Mr Armstrong in confidential meetings (which really does sound a bit weird), AOL’s CEO has apologised to all concerned.
A statement sent out to all AOL employees read: “I am writing you to acknowledge the mistake I made last Friday during the Patch all-hands meeting when I publicly fired Abel Lenz. It was an emotional response at the start of a difficult discussion dealing with many people’s careers and livelihoods. I am the CEO and leader of the organization, and I take that responsibility seriously.”
If it still seems a little harsh to sack an employee on the spot like that, rumours are doing the rounds that Lenz was a marked man after the project he was heading up had been deemed a failure.
So when you’re making a conference call, make sure you don’t say something that will offend anyone, even under your breath, as every pair of ears is listening!