AOL CEO sorry for ‘distressed babies’ remark; reverses retirement plan

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in May 2010 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in May 2010 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images

AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong reversed his decision to cut employee retirement benefits and apologized for remarks linking two women at the company with “distressed babies” to its rising health care costs that set off a fire storm of criticism.

Armstrong issued a memo to staffers on Saturday explaining the company would change its 401(k) policy back to matching contributions on per-period basis rather than one lump sum at the end of the year.

“On a personal note, I made a mistake and I apologize for my comments last week at the town hall when I mentioned specific healthcare examples in trying to explain our decision making process around our employee benefit programs,” Armstrong wrote in a memo obtained by Reuters.

AOL declined to comment.

In a town hall meeting last week where Armstrong sought to clarify why the company cut its employee retirement plan, he singled out two unnamed women who had babies with health problems and the impact of President Obama’s health care reforms for adding millions of dollars to AOL’s bill.

The mother of one of one of those babies, the wife of an AOL employee, came forward to address the insensitive comments in an article on Sunday for Slate.com.

“I have no expertise in health care costs, but I have a 3-inch thick folder of hospital bills that range from a few dollars and cents to the high six figures. So even though it’s unlikely that AOL directly paid out those sums, I don’t take issue with Armstrong’s number,” Deanna Fei wrote.

“I take issue with how he reduced my daughter to a “distressed baby” who cost the company too much money. How he blamed the saving of her life for his decision to scale back employee benefits,” she continued.

“How he exposed the most searing experience of our lives, one that my husband and I still struggle to discuss with anyone but each other, for no other purpose than an absurd justification for corporate cost-cutting,” Fei wrote.

The AOL chief’s comment sparked a media backlash and overshadowed AOL’s fourth quarter results, after the online media and entertainment company reported its best growth in a decade.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…