Patch is an independent U.S. 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.
Type of site
|Area served||United States|
|Key people||Warren St. John, CEO and Executive Editor|
|Services||Online news and opinion|
|Alexa rank||114 (U.S.)|
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 hometown 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. He instead asked that his seed money be returned to him in the form of AOL stock when it split from Time Warner.
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.
Since 2014, Patch has been led by CEO and Executive Editor Warren St. John, a prior reporter for The New York Times and contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Observer and Wired. St. John is the author of the national bestsellers Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey Into the Heart of Fan Mania and Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference.
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.
The local news and information platform launched a new mobile app for both iOS and Android in November 2018, allowing users to subscribe to a personalized newsfeed from multiple cities and towns in the U.S. In its soft launch, the app was downloaded over 233,000 times and averaged a 4.5-star rating in the major app stores.
Patch covers news from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., but does not cover international news.
Patch 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. Patch's neighbor posts also allow visitors to contribute event news, columns and other community-oriented content.
Patch Media has come 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 had deteriorated and the company entered a period of consolidation. The sites also faced increased competition from independent blogs.
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."
However, on Patch's resurgence, CEO and Executive Editor Warren St. John told Digiday in 2017, "I think Patch is playing and will continue to play an important role in hyperlocal journalism. We have a business model that's made it possible to continue to invest. I think we're on to something."
As of 2019, the hyperlocal news platform celebrated a number of milestones including three consecutive years of profitability and a continuing expansion of staff and reporting capabilities. According to MediaPost, Patch has found a few innovative ways to keep local news profitable, adopting the "playbook" of big tech platforms. The strategy involves allowing users to contribute to journalistic conversations and user-friendly advertising through a new set of tools across Patch's sites.
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- Keith, Tamara (17 August 2010). "AOL Aims High With Hyperlocal Journalism Project". NPR.com. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
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- "About Us". Patch. Retrieved 2014-01-17.
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- "AOL To 'Impact' Hundreds Of Patch Employees Friday In A Bid For Hyper Local Profits". Retrieved 2013-08-09.
- Nicholas Carlson, provided by (2013-08-09). "AOL CEO Tim Armstrong Fired Patch's Creative Director In Front Of 1,000 Coworkers (AOL)". SFGate. Retrieved 2014-01-17.
- "Opinion: AOL boss blew it in public firing". CNN.com. 13 August 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-17.
- Burns, Matt. "Patch Hit With Sweeping Layoffs As New Owner Hale Global Restructures". TechCrunch. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
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- "How 'hyperlocal' news app Patch is trying to regain trust in media". The Daily Dot. 2018-12-26. Retrieved 2019-06-13.
- Rainey, James (24 April 2010). "On the Media: Trying to Patch into the hyper-local news market: The AOL franchise comes to Manhattan Beach. Can it succeed?". Los Angeles Times.
- Carlson, Nicholas (23 September 2011). "'A Bridge Too Far': AOL Requires Patch Editors To Drum Up Ad Sales Leads". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 1 July 2012.
- Carlson, Nicholas (23 February 2012). "Leaked Documents Reveal Exactly How Much Ads Cost On Patch". Business Insider.
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- Gaffin, Adam (16 April 2010). "Thank God Needham is a three-site town". Universal Hub.
- Safran, Steve (May 21, 2010). "Is the Patch revenue model sustainable?". Lost Remote. Archived from the original on April 20, 2012.
- Hirschman, David (19 April 2011). "Baristanet's Debra Galant: How Patch Is Like Wal-Mart (interview)". Street Fight: Inside the Business of Hyperlocal.
- Kennedy, Dan (August 5, 2010). "Hard times working the Patch". Media Nation.
- Del Rey, Jason (9 December 2011). "AOL's Patch Gets a Little Less Hyper-Local: Consolidates Sites in New Jersey, California". Ad Age.
- Roach, Sean (March–April 2012). "The Constant Gardener: My two years tending AOL's hyperlocal experiment". Columbia Journalism Review.
- Kennedy, Dan (May 13, 2011). "Indies fight back against Patch". Media Nation.
- "Tim Armstrong Still Believes: The AOL CEO tells why he's still betting on Patch". Columbia Journalism Review. March–April 2012.
- Faircloth, Kelly (April 12, 2012). "AOL's Patch Editor-In-Chief Leaves, Does Not Go Scorched Earth". Shakeups. Betabeat. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- Moses, Lucia (2017-05-09). "Now profitable, Patch wants to be a platform for other local news outlets". Digiday. Retrieved 2019-06-13.
- "'Patch' Celebrates Profitability, Explores AI". www.mediapost.com. Retrieved 2019-06-13.