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AOL boss fires employee in conference call for taking photo

CEO Tim Armstrong says on May 9, 2012 that the latest financial results for AOL show that it is in better shape than it was a year ago.
Credit: Courtesy AOL
 

Holly Yan

CNN

(CNN) -- Getting the ax is hard. But it's a lot harder with 1,000 of your co-workers listening in.

One employee of Internet giant AOL was canned in a very public way because he apparently tried to take a photo of the boss during a mass conference call.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong was on a call about the future of Patch, the hyperlocal news websites he founded, when he noticed Patch's creative director Abel Lenz and his camera.

"Abel -- put that camera down right now. Abel! You're fired. Out!" Armstrong said, according to audio obtained by the media blog JimRomenesko.com.

The call fell silent for five uncomfortable seconds. Then, Armstrong resumed business as usual.

"If, uh, you guys think that AOL has not been committed to Patch and won't stay committed to Patch, you're wrong," he said.

Lenz later tweeted from a New York bar: "No comment."

Incidentally, less than a minute before Lenz's fatal snapshot, Armstrong said he didn't care if anyone leaked information about Patch.

"I also want to clear up the fact that leaking information or anything around Patch isn't going to bother me," the CEO said. "It doesn't bother me, I'm not changing direction."

AOL and Lenz have not responded to CNN's request for comment.

According to Business Insider, the call took place Friday amid news that AOL is slashing the number of Patch sites from 900 to 600.

While some employees were reportedly expecting to hear about layoffs, no one expected to hear a firing live during the call.

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