Top Patch editor’s “bittersweet” exit

April 12, 2012

In case you haven’t had your fill of AOL news this week: Patch editor-in-chief Brian Farnham surprised employees today by declaring he will be out the door May 4.

The once-mighty Internet corporation stunned Silicon Valley just days ago by announcing it was unloading the majority of its patents to Microsoft for more than $1 billion. Now, Farnham’s imminent departure raised questions about the future of a once highly touted hyper-local news and community site that reportedly lost $160 million in 2011 alone.

AOL’s media business now also spans TechCrunch, Engadget, and the Huffington Post — all under the auspices of Arianna Huffington.

“Taking leave of Patch ain’t easy, but let me try to boil down why I’m doing so: it turns out I really love creating things from scratch, and while Patch is in a continual process of truly fascinating evolution and only a toddler of a company, it has definitely left “scratch” in the dust,” Farnham wrote in a Wednesday blogpost. “So I’m heading off to explore some other startup opportunities. But not before I take a good, long nap.”

Industry insiders had speculated that Patch — or any of a number of AOL properties — was on the auction block, even before the patent sale. Some trade publications in particular had wondered whether Huffington — who crossed to Tim Armstrong’s empire with the acquisition of her namesake content website amid much fanfare — might not see her influence diminish.

What’s next for the ever-more uncertain AOL sprawl? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

“Brian is part of Patch’s DNA, which makes his decision to leave bittersweet for all of us. We’re going to miss him, but it goes without saying that we wish him well and that we’re excited to see what new opportunities await him post-Patch,” AOL’s Jon Brod said in a prepared statement.

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