Type of site
|Area served||United States|
|Services||Online news and opinion|
Patch.com is an American local news and information platform, primarily owned by Hale Global. As of June 2019, Patch operated some 1,227 hyperlocal news and information websites in 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.
Patch Media Corporation is the operator of the service.
Patch was founded by Tim Armstrong, Warren Webster and Jon Brod in 2007 after Armstrong said he found a dearth of online information on his home-neighborhood of Riverside, Connecticut. The company was acquired by AOL in 2009 shortly after Armstrong became AOL's CEO. Armstrong told AOL staffers that he recused himself from negotiations to acquire the company and did not directly profit from his seed investment.
The acquisition occurred on June 11, 2009. AOL paid an estimated $7 million in cash for the news platform as part of its effort to reinvent itself as a content provider beyond its legacy dial-up Internet business. AOL, which split from Time Warner in late 2009, announced in 2010 it would be investing $50 million or more into the startup of the Patch.com network. As part of the acquisition Brod became President of AOL Ventures, Local & Mapping, and Warren Webster became president of Patch.
On August 9, 2013, AOL announced it would be laying off staff at all levels. On an all-staff conference call, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong announced that the number of staffed Patch sites would be reduced from 900 to 600. Creative Director Abel Lenz was also publicly fired by Tim Armstrong at that time.
On January 15, 2014, AOL spun off Patch and sold majority ownership to Hale Global. With the sale's closure, AOL laid off several hundred more staffers before turning control of Patch over to Hale. In May 2014, the company announced the first profitable quarter in its history. In 2014, Warren St. John became CEO and Executive Editor of Patch.
Prior to its 2014 sale, Patch Media came under scrutiny from individuals and the media. Articles in the Los Angeles Times, Business Insider, Forbes and online bloggers pointed out apparent flaws in its previous business model. According to several sources that were published from 2010 to 2012, some of which quoted former employees, working conditions within the organization deteriorated and the company entered a period of consolidation. The sites also faced increased competition from independent blogs. Nonetheless, Tim Armstrong told the Columbia Journalism Review in March 2012 that he still believed in the company. When Editor-in-Chief Brian Farnham resigned in April 2012, Farnham said: "I've never worked for a company that has been as scrutinized, criticized, and coal-raked as this one ... You’d think we were creating toxic waste, instead of, you know, free useful information."
In February 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that Patch had 23 million users, was profitable and expanding into new territories. In 2018, Patch completed is third profitable year in a row, attracting an average of 23.5 million unique visitors monthly. Patch employs nearly 150 people, including 110 full-time reporters, many from the nation's leading newsrooms.
Alison Bernstein was named CEO in September 2019, and later transitioned to the company's board. Rob Cain, formerly of Adept Technology, became Patch's CEO in November 2020. Charles Hale informed Recode in 2019 that his network of 1,200-plus hyperlocal sites was generating more than $20 million in annual ad revenue, without a paywall.
Patch.com sites contain news and human interest stories reported locally. Each site contains a mixture of local and national advertising. The latter includes a self-serve ad platform allowing users to communicate directly with targeted audiences.
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