Nicholas Carlson, at Business Insider, on the day AOL's CEO briefly interrupted a motivational post-layoffs session with staff to fire one of them on-the-spot—and the business pressures that led to it.
The impulsive firing on the heels of this statement made Armstrong sound unhinged — "schizophrenic in his thinking" is how a source close to him later described it. Several days later, Armstrong apologized privately to Abel Lenz and then publicly to AOL employees. But, by then, mainstream outlets including Yahoo and the Daily Mail had picked up the news. Some people viewed the public firing as a bad-ass CEO move, the kind of thing that a famously demanding executive like Steve Jobs or Larry Ellison might have done. But most people across the country and world saw it as gratuitous and humiliating: What's wrong with Tim Armstrong, people wondered? What kind of CEO fires some poor guy in front of all his colleagues? What did this say about what was going on at AOL?