Patch reports record audience as AOL faces proxy fight

Patch | The Wall Street Journal
Patch reports today its audience is up 14 percent over last month, with 11.7 million users in May, and that its revenue is up 17 percent over the same period. This news comes at a propitious time for AOL’s ambitious local-news initiative: Thursday’s annual AOL shareholder meeting will be a showdown between CEO Tim Armstrong and Starboard Value, the activist investment group that’s been calling for the corporation to change its content-focused strategy. “We do not believe Patch is a viable business,” Starboard wrote in an investor presentation it’s filed with the SEC. It estimated the local-news initiative is on track to lose “approximately $79 million to $133 million per year.” Starboard is hoping to elect three directors to the company’s board at the meeting.

Keach Hagey reports in The Wall Street Journal that AOL’s been catching some tailwinds that might blunt Starboard’s attack. Its stock is up 43 percent following a sale of patents to Microsoft, and much of its equity is held by long-term investors (who might nonetheless get twitchy if a frustrated Starboard sells its 5.3 percent share in the company, Hagey writes).

Previously: AOL reports Q1 earnings with progress for Patch as rumors swirl it’s selling tech sites

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