AOL sells Patch

Way back in September we told you how AOL chief executive, Tim Armstrong,  sacked an employee during a company-wide conference call.

The conference call in question was to update employees on the latest developments concerning Patch, AOL’s idea for a worldwide local news hub, but, shortly after that employee was sacked by Armstrong, AOL shed a quarter of its Patch sites and laid off half the unit’s workforce, about 500 staff.

Well now AOL has sold Patch.

Patch deal sewn up

AOL has sold its majority stake in Patch to technology investment firm Hale Global for an undisclosed fee.

And although the deal is being touted as a joint venture, it looks more like a case of AOL washing its hands of an ambitious but not particularly exciting project.

Patch was to be a global network of local news, with a homepage into which you’d simply type your postcode before being faced with all of the breaking local news in your area, a bit like a local newspaper online.

The major flaw here is that most local newspapers are already online and will break stories via social media, which most of us are always connected to!

And although the idea was to cover developments ignored by local newspapers, the fact that these publications publish stories on everything from missing cats to church fetes, it’s unlikely there’d be any new news left. An news of interest anyway.

Turn around

However, Hale Global, a company that specialises in turning around underperforming businesses must see some potential in the business model to take the majority stake in a new company where AOL will merely be a passive minority investor.

The idea is to relaunch Patch as a place for businesses and contributors to create locally themed news and content that will be optimised for desktop and mobile devices.

It’s hoped advertisers will be wooed by self-service tools for creating their ads.

Which still sounds pretty uninspiring – It’ll come as no surprise if people don’t cotton on to this patch-up job.

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