AOL sells majority stake in Patch to turnaround specialist Hale Global

Patch has a new majority owner: Hale Global.

CEO Charles Hale says in a release that “we are committed to bringing users, local businesses,patch writers and advertisers together into a Patch experience full of innovation and growth.” (AOL will have what CEO Tim Armstrong calls “a meaningful minority interest” in the venture.)

Armstrong says of Hale in his memo to employees: “We believe they are very well positioned to nurture and grow Patch. Hale has made investments in local commerce and platforms, and they have a strong team of leaders and technical expertise.”

Update: After telling his new employees that “I was up all night, so I’m a little ragged,” Hale said in his very brief conference call that “we’re turnaround specialists,” and that Hale Global looks to acquire companies that “have problems and potential.” Patch, he said, has both.

* AOL gives up control of money-losing Patch (businessweek.com)
* AOL strikes deal over Patch (ft.com)
* AOL to partner with Hale Global on Patch (news release)

Read AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong’s memo about the deal after the jump.

AOLers,

AOL has a strong track record of improving, pivoting, and partnering – that’s what successful companies and start-ups do. AOL’s return to growth has been built by making smart investments and by calibrating our investments while moving through opportunities.

We pivoted our ads business to programmatic, we pivoted our content business to powerful brands, and we pivoted our video production to becoming a video platform.

Today we are pivoting another area of our business: local. The local digital space will reach $152B by 2017, driven by a $21B growth in local digital revenue over the next three years and we have invested in local with Patch. The goal for Patch has always been simple – to be a local platform for information and commerce in towns and to serve communities in a meaningful and human way.

After extensive discussions over the last several months with many companies interested in the local media business and local platform business, today we are announcing a joint venture partnership with Hale Global. Hale Global is a private company that has a successful track record of investing and growing technology assets, and we believe they are very well positioned to nurture and grow Patch. Hale has made investments in local commerce and platforms, and they have a strong team of leaders and technical expertise. Hale’s CEO, Charlie Hale, is a strong believer in the power of local, local platforms, and local storytelling. Bud Rosenthal and Charlie Hale will be detailing Patch’s go-forward plan and next steps with the Patch team today.

AOL has delivered on our commitment to our investors and put Patch in a position to be successful. We are retaining a meaningful minority interest in the joint venture, and we stand to benefit from Patch’s pivot to platform excellence.

While Patch pivots, it is important to remember that it serves millions of consumers throughout hundreds of towns in America and partners with some of the largest and smallest businesses that serve those communities. Hale will help Patch improve, and we will be partners with Hale in the next phase of the journey – TA


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