By Nicholas Carlson
Below, we've embedded probably the most intense moment you'll ever hear during a workplace conference call. It's from a call AOL CEO Tim Armstrong hosted Friday morning. In the recording, obtained by media business blog Romenesko, Armstrong is speaking to the 1,000 or so employees of AOL's local news network, Patch.
The day before the call, during AOL's Q2 earnings call, Armstrong told Wall Street analysts that Patch would shrink from 900 to 600 websites. Patch employees took Armstrong's comments to mean that hundreds of them would soon lose their jobs. Obviously, this sent morale plummeting. The call was supposed to be Armstrong's attempt to rally the troops. During the first minute or so of the recording, Armstrong says things like: "If you don't believe what I'm about to say, I'm going to ask you to leave Patch ... we have to get Patch into a place where it's going to be successful."
But then things go suddenly awry. At exactly two minutes into the recording, Armstrong addresses someone in the room with him. He says, "Abel, put that camera down, now." Then, without taking a breath, Armstrong says, "Abel, you're fired. Out." The person Armstrong is talking to in the recording is Abel Lenz, Patch's Creative Director. Obviously, Lenz is no longer with the company. Armstrong picked an odd reason to fire him. We hear that Lenz, based in New York, would always take pictures of people talking on company-wide conference calls so that he could post them on Patch's internal news site.