AOL

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AOL Reviews

Updated November 21, 2014
Updated November 21, 2014
666 Reviews
3.5
666 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong
Tim Armstrong
367 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • flexible work/life balance (although hours can be long) (in 86 reviews)

  • Or if you want to work from home (in 22 reviews)


Cons
  • The senior management really don't care much about the company except, for each for their own piece (in 27 reviews)

  • The department you work in determines what kind of work life balance you will have (in 11 reviews)

More Highlights

53 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Bureaucrats In Control

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at AOL full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Many are able to work remotely.

    Cons

    Upper management is concerned only with feathering their own nests. They promote people who buy into the vision of "there are no problems, give me a big bonus."

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Sorry, a head to toe clear out of the dead wood you promoted and bring back the workers and contractors that you "downsized".

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 3 people found this helpful  

    Horrible place to spend your day

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Director in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Director in New York, NY

    I have been working at AOL full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    The compensation is decent and competitive.

    Cons

    The CEO is an emotional train wreck and a sales person rather than a steady thinker. Projects are stopped, often stalled even when they are worthwhile and lucrative. This place takes 'be accepting of change' to a whole different dysfunctional level. Nothing gets done.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop firing smart people. Stop hiring new execs every five seconds. Get a freaking clue.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 3 people found this helpful  

    Pretentious, washed up and over-valued.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Product Manager in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Product Manager in New York, NY

    I have been working at AOL full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Competitive salary, flexible schedule. No one cares when you get in or leave. Or if you want to work from home. In most situations, managers do not even count your vacation days, I had co-workers sneaking in an extra week or two, then rolling over the rest. Aslo, some people seem to play ping pong all day.

    Cons

    The company is really full of it's self. They think that they are doing something special and innovative, like Google, but they are not. The goal of the company is just to keep the stock price up at any expense. They have made peculiar budgeting suggestions, like firing loads of people, and them buying new expensive furnatre for the lounge.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    No advice to management. If it is there goal to exploite their workers for better bottom line and bonuses, then they are already doinga great job. No one is going to care what this girl thinks.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 5 people found this helpful  

    Continual layoffs destroy morale. Exceptionally poor management.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at AOL full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Many smart people, but with very little motivation. Gallows humor persists, particularly in Virginia. Occasionally you might find a mid-level manager who has a clue.

    Cons

    No matter what product you're working on, expect layoffs to destroy your team. Frequent reorganizations are akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Very high turnover at top management levels results in no coherent direction. Managers are killing projects that generate positive cash flow.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    First of all, READ THESE REVIEWS. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see a trend in these reviews. Most say the same thing: AOL has good people, but is killing itself with poor management and constant layoffs.

    Second, management has to come up with a coherent strategy and stick to it. It is the job of senior management to provide strategy and direction, and they are failing miserably at that.

    Finally, AOL needs to stop selling kidneys to make its numbers. The constant layoffs have not only destroyed morale and resulted in a brain drain inside the company, they have created an extraordinarily heavy workload on the survivors. They would be better off replacing any managers who rely on layoffs to make their numbers; these managers are killing the company.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 4 people found this helpful  

    Poor management, weak vision, weird bets, uncritical thinking

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at AOL full-time

    Pros

    There are some great implementors hiding out within AOL, particularly in technical positions. And I suppose something nice can be said about the NYC office, which looks nice and feels modern.

    Cons

    Chaotic, befuddling, and disappointing business and product strategies. Inappropriate and poorly working internal tools. Mercurial and temperamental leadership. Leadership, in general, from the VP level and higher lack confidence, are uncreative. As is often reported, the diminishing legacy revenue streams remain the real focus of support as a surprising amount of product work is cut or unreleased, despite repeated validation that ih-house initiatives consistently predate current products that are globally popular.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 9 people found this helpful  

    Don't think about going to AOL. It survives by layoffs, and top management is clueless

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at AOL full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    The coffee is good, and we just got free Patagoia vests with an AOL logo on them. The food in the cafeteria is so-so, and we get corporate bling.

    Cons

    Where to begin?

    First, don't plan on a long tenure. The company is surviving by decreasing labor costs, which translates into layoffs once a quarter. It doesn't matter what your performance rating was, or what your skill set it. Layoffs are just a matter of life as an AOL employee.

    Second, expect no coherent direction. Senior management changes directions quite frequently, so you may find yourself working on a high priority one day only to find (usually through the grapevine) that your project isn't very important at all. Priorities change so frequently that it's difficult to keep track, and despite Tim's claims to the contrary, senior management doesn't bother to communicate.

    Third, don't expect career advancement. While friends of the senior management team tend to advance rapidly, others do not. In my 10+ years at AOL I saw only 3 people get promoted.

    Fourth, don't expect great raises. While Tim and his team bring home huge salaries, the staff receive paltry 1-2% raises. The idea of "share the wealth" does not exist at AOL.

    Fifth, do not expect brilliance at senior levels. While I found that the skills at the worker levels were extremely high -- there are some truly brilliant people working at AOL -- the same is not true of senior managers. Moreover, they tend to avoid trying to understand complex issues, preferring instead to reduce matters to simple PowerPoint decks. Senior managers are prone to rather stupid comments (remember Tim's "distressed babies") in staff meetings. The quarterly all-hands meetings were touted as a mechanism to make sure that everyone understood how the company was doing and that we were all focused on the right priorities, but instead were nothing more than rah-rah pep rallies to let the VPs talk about how great they were doing.

    Sixth, do not expect communications. While the team management team tries to convey goals and priorities to the staff, divisional and sub-divisional managers rarely provide any clues as to what is important, which projects we should be heading in what direction, or even how we're doing. It's a classic case of the staff working in a vacuum.

    Seventh, do not expect brilliance and innovation. The staff frequently comes up with ideas that rival some of the best on the net, but the product management team is intent on keeping their "not invented here" mentality. While we're encouraged to think outside the box, in reality new ideas are discouraged, to the point where money-making products are being shut down.

    Eighth, do not expect what you work on to ever go live. The halls of AOL are littered with products that were conceived, approved, developed, tested, and then killed without ever being released. Many of these products pre-dated competing products on the net, and some of those became quite successful. Staff layoffs and changing management priorities are killing innovation.

    Ninth, expect that mail is the sole and dominant priority. It is true that the majority of AOL visitors come from mail, but the emphasis on mail by senior management is preventing development of new products. They have not realized that mail has become a commodity on the net.

    Tenth, expect long hours and a high stress environment. While most managers tend to be flexible for work / life issues, the constant changing priorities, long hours expected, and constant layoffs combine to create a work environment that is anything but collaborative or productive. On any given day you may come into work to find that your project is dead and you are out of a job.

    There are more cautions to provide, but by now I hope the reader has an idea. Avoid AOL at all costs.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Senior management is overpaid and clueless. Advice to the board: replace senior management. Advice to management: pick a priority and stick with it. Stop the constant layoffs and give the staff some security. Stop walking away from deals that leave money on the table. Develop a way to encourage innovation, and staff with product managers and divisional managers who are not locked into the status quo.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 4 people found this helpful  

    Management seems to be driving talent away

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at AOL

    Pros

    Storied past, could be a springboard for greatness

    Cons

    Management has a track record of follow whim or fancy, and is mostly likely to follow the advice of an elevator pitch instead of a coherent strategy. There seems to be little stomach for internal technology development, product teams are focusing nearly exclusively to external consulting or agencies. The loss of so many people has lead to a culture of the blind leading the blind.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be serious about attracting and keeping top talent.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 5 people found this helpful  

    Warning, layoffs pending again!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Director in Dulles, VA
    Current Employee - Director in Dulles, VA

    I have been working at AOL full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Great individual contributors as they really care about what they are doing. Very good work life balance in genera. This is a culture of executive management to realign through layoffs

    Cons

    Executive management has no clues. Warning: Layoffs a monthly affair.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Leave. Change management through several levels.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10.  

    Internal Audit Manager

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Internal Audit Manager in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Internal Audit Manager in Washington, DC

    I worked at AOL full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Exciting fast-paced environment for a company that is continually evolving.

    Cons

    Cost cutting focus is driving good people away.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    No work life balance, bureaucratic policies

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Finance
    Former Employee - Finance

    I worked at AOL full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Decent benefits, free beverages, nice office space.

    Cons

    Despite being on the list of great work/life balance companies, many in my group find this hard to actually believe. I guess it depends on who your team ultimately reports to. Many in our team work late every night. There is no respect for family time. There's an urgency to each and every little thing. My manager was poorly trained and she treated her employees poorly including demeaning behavior and just plain unprofessional especially under stress. The monthly financial process is a nightmare with ten thousand people from all over the world involved in the process.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Enforce your work life balance reputation to every department. Some of us have families to care for after we leave work. Put together some streamlined processes. Make reporting more transparent. You are a public company, after all.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

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