We recently learned that AOL is pouring money ($50 million to be exact) into Patch, a hyperlocal news platform that operates local news sites for 41 small towns and communities in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and California. Now AOL is launching a charitable offshoot of Patch, called Patch.org, which will support the funding of hyperlocal news sites in “underserved communities.” According to a release, “Patch .org will partner with community foundations and other organizations to launch Patch sites and bring objective local news and information to communities and neighborhoods around the world that lack adequate news media and online local information resources.”
Patch.org will use funding to support and sustain sites that are modeled on Patch’s model. For each of the sites launched through Patch.org, a professional local journalist will produce original objective news and information about the area and curate user-contributed events, announcements, photos and video. Any profits derived from Patch.org-funded sites will be returned to the communities they serve. The foundation will operate in conjunction with Patch’s Give 5 program, which donates advertising space and employee volunteer time to charitable organizations in local communities.
According to a recent 10-K filing, Patch was bought by AOL for $7.0 million in cash. AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong, had previously invested $4.5 million in Patch back in his Google days via his private investment firm Polar Capital.
We know that Armstrong is not only bullish on niche content but is also looking for AOL to become a content powerhouse. The company has even developed its own CMS, Seed, which is a content machine that aims to redefine journalism. And AOL just bought internet video company StudioNow, which was integrated into Seed, to boost its video content on editorial sites.
AOL also recently set up a $10 million fund to invest in local startups.