Shining further light on AOL’s Armstrong

How far that little candle
throws his beams!
So shines a good deed
in a weary world.
— William Shakespeare

In earlier postings (start here) I have written about Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, who appears to be cracking under the pressure as Patch, his virtual child and the source of an enormous amount of expenditure by AOL, is faltering.

Mr. Armstrong’s behavior under pressure, which, to put it mildly, is bizarre and probably totally inappropriate for the CEO of a multi-billion dollar, publicly traded company, has increasingly been highlighted by the media with a special focus on his very public firing of Mr. Abel Lenz, an employee of Patch, during an all-hands call in what appears to be a random act of violence.

Recently, Mr. Nicholas Carlson, a correspondent at Business Insider, has written an in-depth article about Mr. Armstrong (read it here,) attempting to, in a Darwinist way, I assume, shine light on the man.

And shine light he does. A 800,000,000 candela spotlight. And, whatever Mr. Carlson’s goal was with the article, what we see is not pretty.

I won’t take away from Mr. Carlson’s story, which is a terrific read, by opining any further about Mr. Armstrong’s behavior. Instead I will simply leave the reader with a tiny extract from the story, which clearly illustrates that whatever pressure Mr. Armstrong is currently under is not the cause of his behavior, but, rather a catalyst:

Once, during a regular Monday morning review with top executives, one of Armstrong’s lieutenants, the west coast product boss Jason Shellen, asked Armstrong if he could hire his temporary assistant full-time.

Armstrong took a moment to review the assistant’s resume. Then Armstrong looked up and spoke at the speaker phone, through which Shellen was connected to the room.

He said, “We’re not hiring people from the Melting Pot.”

Before temping with AOL for the prior three months, Shellen’s assistant had been a hostess at a chain fondue restaurant called the Melting Pot.

Armstrong said, “Why don’t you just hire a Stanford grad?” That’s where Armstrong had hired his executive assistant from at Google, after all — Maureen Marques. By then, Marques had gone on to become a senior executive at AOL.

Shellen couldn’t believe it. He said, “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” He liked his assistant, the former hostess from Melting Pot. She had done good work for three months. And she was cheap at $45,000 per year.

Armstrong said: “We’re not hiring her.” Shellen’s career at AOL ended not long afterwards.

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