Verizon’s AOL is reportedly planning to lay off around 500 staff members Thursday as the company shifts its resources to focus on mobile, video, and data services.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong on Wednesday told Recode the majority of the cuts will be “super-targeted by area” and will generally come from the company’s corporate units. The reductions are not related to the expected acquisition and integration of Yahoo, he said.
The losses will amount to approximately 5 percent of the company’s workforce, but Armstrong said AOL will regrow its staff, “especially in video and mobile.” In a memo to AOL staffers published by Recode, Armstrong said the changes were part of AOL’s effort to stay “ahead of the curve.”
“The more we differentiate our strategy and products, the more we move from strategy to execution, and the more we speed up our product delivery, the more value we will confer to our consumers and customers – and that is where our focus needs to live,” Armstrong wrote.
The move follows AOL’s onboarding of some 1,500 new employees over the past 12 months thanks to a number of deals, including its acquisition of Millennial Media. It also comes as parent company Verizon has been steadily been pushing its own focus on content, as evidenced by its launch of the go90 mobile video platform last year and deals with media players like Hearst, AwesomenessTV, and Complex Media.
But Verizon so far has struggled to find success in mobile content.
Back in August, the Wall Street Journal reported go90 advertisers were disappointed with slower-than-anticipated uptake of the mobile video app.
In its third quarter earnings call, Verizon said average daily usage of the app had finally surpassed 30 minutes per viewer, with less than 20 percent of traffic served on Verizon’s own network. But that level of viewership has come after around a year of go90 sitting in the app store.
In September, Verizon Executive Vice President Marni Walden said the company would move to push its content across all of its platforms, including go90, AOL, and any assets it picks up from Yahoo.