AOL announces staff cuts

AOL LLC, an Internet company struggling to adapt to an advertising-driven economy, is looking to shed more than a third of its work force as it prepares to spin off from Time Warner Inc. next month.

NEW YORK — AOL LLC, an Internet company struggling to adapt to an advertising-driven economy, is looking to shed more than a third of its work force as it prepares to spin off from Time Warner Inc. next month.

Major job cuts had been expected, but the magnitude hadn’t been known until Thursday. AOL, which now employs 6,900 workers, is asking for 2,500 volunteers to accept buyouts and plans to resort to layoffs if it does not get enough people.

AOL hopes to trim annual costs by about $300 million. The job cuts still need approval from the new AOL board and come on top of about 100 layoffs on Nov. 10.

Primrose would not say where the new cuts would occur or what positions they would involve. The company is based in New York but also has major operations in Northern Virginia.

The voluntary offer is open to all employees from Dec. 4 though Dec. 11, AOL spokeswoman Tricia Primrose said.

Tim Armstrong, the company’s CEO, is also forgoing a bonus this year.

The layoffs and the impending spinoff cap one of the most disastrous marriages in U.S. corporate history. After being acquired by AOL in 2001, at the height of the dot-com boom, Time Warner said this week it will spin AOL off as a separate company on Dec. 9.

AOL’s legacy dial-up Internet access business has been fading for many years, and the company already had shed thousands of jobs as it pared down to focus more on producing content to garner advertising revenue.

But AOL had staggered in those efforts, even before the recession drove the advertising market into a slump. It named one of Google Inc.’s advertising chiefs, Tim Armstrong, as chief executive this year to revive the business.

Armstrong has spent his first months at AOL visiting its employees around the world and scrutinizing its products to figure out where the company might shine. The decision to shed so many workers suggests the company has identified its priorities, although no details were available on what those are.

AOL’s operations still make money, but that profit has been falling. Nonetheless, AOL does have a few bright spots, including the popular tech blog Engadget and the celebrity website TMZ.com.

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