AOL Reviews

Updated July 2, 2015
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AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong
Tim Armstrong
387 Ratings

Pros
  • Very good work life balance in genera (in 86 reviews)

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

Cons
  • Major shifts in vision and senior management (in 27 reviews)

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

More Pros and Cons

735 Employee Reviews

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  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (1)

    Work hard, play hard.

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

    I have been working at AOL full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    AOL takes fun seriously. There are always activities like happy hours, group outings, company parties. AOL isn't cheap either. The events that the company hosts never has a shortage of booze or food. There are other random perks like celebrities that visit the office and come talk to the employees and we're given the chance to ask them anything random question. There are ping pong tables, NAP ROOMS, snacks, and amazing/ passionate people. Overall, great place to work.

    Cons

    I didn't have much of a work life balance, but it all depends on your team and the nature of your job.

    Advice to Management

    Keep doing what you're doing. Great Job.


  2. Helpful (1)

    Unfair work environment

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)

    I worked at AOL full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Great people who love what they do
    great benefits (Health)

    Cons

    it is all about who you know. Many people who are not qualified will get a role/promotion, just because they know/are friends/relatives of someone senior in the business. When a new senior person starts, they want to get rid of the old team and start hiring/building their own team
    no operational structure - which means you have to pick up alot of work which is not in your Job description
    HR and Management are useless even when you make complaints - they do nothing unless it benefits them.
    Some managers are so unprofessional swearing at others in their own language, thinking they will not understand
    Toxic environment!

    Advice to Management

    appreciate/recognize your current employees. Learn to recognize real talent no matter how old they are/whether you know them/fancy them
    Stick to one mission / goal so people start taking you serious


  3. Helpful (2)

    Lack of vision, management skills, and adult supervision

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

    I worked at AOL full-time (More than 10 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Decent salary, and tons of corporate bling. We got Patagonia vests, coffee mugs and t-shirts frequently. My daughter has a drawerful of AOL sleep shirts by now.

    Cons

    I worked at AOL for 15 years, if you count my time in the company AOL acquired. In that time I noticed several consistent themes:
    1. Lack of vision..... It is no secret that AOL has been trying to reinvent itself, but they have been trying to do so without any clear plan or strategy. We have been operating under the "strategy of the day", which means that a given project may have high priority one day only to be on the chopping block the next.

    2. Immediate gratification is required. Management has no follow-through, and is unable to accept that some products will take time. The halls of AOL are littered with dead projects that had been killed because management misunderstood the technology or the project would not have returned an immediate profit. Long term. strategy does not exist. sadly, a surpringly large portion of these projects would have implemented services that others outside AOL turned into very successful businesses.

    3. Overly strong bias toward old technology... Within the engineering organization there is a heavy bias toward email and old technology, to the point where it is extremely difficult to integrate with newer technology. If your project was not related to mail, you were lucky if you received any support (the primary driver behind this is simple; a huge portion of AOL's page views come from webmail). Unfortunately, this has the effect of hamstringing other efforts. That's one of the reasons you'll find that AOL's instant messaging lags so far behind the industry, for example.

    4. Exceptionally poor morale. Within the engineering organization there is a persistent pall, a sense that no matter what you may be doing, your job will eventually be considered "extraneous", and you'll be laid off. In my time at AOL I saw over 20 layoffs of varying sizes within engineering alone. Employees have developed a morbid sense of humor to deal with this stress. Management doesn't help with this by announcing most layoffs with no forewarning. It is not at all uncommon to see a coworker arrive as normal in the morning only to find by midday that they are unemployed.

    5. No correlation between job ratings and actual performance... AOL recently started implementing stack ratings within engineering, which forces managers (many of whom have absolutely no direct experience with the employee) to force a normal distribution on employee skills. There is no recognition that it is possible to have a team comprised of above average skills. Annual ratings are developed by committees of managers, but a surprisingly large number of managers deciding I ratings have never worked with the employee being rated. This utter disconnect between ratings and actual job performance has turned the culture into one that stresses self preservation, knowledge hoarding, and unnecessary competitiveness.

    6. Unwillingness to consider conflicting views.... I worked on a small team focusing on a line of business outside the mainstream consumer business. Our team was quite profitable, netting far more per capita than most businesses in the company. Moreover, our customers were highly dependent upon the services we offered. Management recently decided to shut down our team, laying off our staff. When our customers got word of the shutdown they became extremely upset and vocal. The decision to shut our team down was made by management without regard for the impact of the decision, and without any willingness to consider alternatives (e.g., spinning off, selling to competition, etc)

    7. Very little potential for career growth... AOL has a very strong bias toward hiring younger people from outside the company over promotion from within. Combined with very few options for career/skill development, this results in an environment in which it is exceptionally hard for one to advance, (AOL does run a training organization that likes to boast of skill development, but the widely known secret is that very few of the staff can actually take advantage of this -- the chargeback to the employee's department pretty much ensures that budget constraints prevent training).

    Advice to Management

    Any advice I have for Tim Armstrong will be ignore, I'm sure. The Verizon deal will pretty much confirm that. However, if any AOL manager DO happen to read this, I offer the following:

    1. Make a plan, and stick to it. Stop building products that you kill off before giving them any chances, or better still, decide on what products to build based on an actual strategy, not the whim of some clueless product manager.
    .
    2. Start treating your employees with respect. Get rid of the stacked ranking and start rating employees on actual skills and results. Not everything in life follows a normal distribution. Another novel idea: Start promoting people from within. It is ex. ceptionally hard for an employee to advance at AOL; there is a strong tendency toward hiring new, younger staff over promotion from within.

    3. Stop trying to make your financials look better by selling body parts. For too many years you have made your financials better by laying employees off. You have long since passed the point of "optimizing" productivity; most employees are now overworked and have no hope of being able to manage their workloads realistically.

    4. Pay attention to your lines of business. Stop walking away from potential deals (yes, I have seen management reject deals on which our customers have approached us, deals that would have resulted in a higher net profit per capita). I understand that you need to focus on your core business lines, but if you have a profitable business unit perhaps it would be better to consider spinoffs or sales rather that layoffs.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    Appalling Senior Management: AOL could be so much better than it is.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)

    I worked at AOL full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Excellent compensation and benefits. There are some wonderful people who really value the company culture and try to make it a great place to work.

    Cons

    The problem with AOL in London is 100% the Senior Management team. They are dishonest, reactive, arrogant and care little for their employees. For the most part, succession planning is non-existent, they hire and fire on a whim so there isn't a lot of opportunity for anyone to really make their mark or progress through the ranks. They make promises they do not follow through with. There is no transparency and they rarely communicate their decisions to the wider business so it's difficult to understand what is happening and why. Things are constantly changing so you never really know where you stand or whether the project your working on will ever make an impact or even be relevant from one day to the next. They promote values which they do not abide by. As an employee, I rarely felt like the Senior Management team had any respect or concern for anyone other than themselves. Some great people work for AOL but very often they are under utilised, unappreciated and their talent unrecognised and thus completely wasted. It's a shame because it has the potential to be a great company and place to work but at this rate, it never will be.

    Advice to Management

    Stop treating your employees like dispensable commodities because they are the ones who make the company great.


  6. Started off great, ended badly

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

    I worked at AOL full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Snacks, nice office space, work phones

    Cons

    Extremely low paying, focuses on raises for only the elite few, constant layoffs and changes, little respect to most employees, abusive work hours and polices, no work/life balance

    Advice to Management

    Work on making your current employees happier instead of focusing on replacing them every year.


  7. Limited scope of growth

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

    I worked at AOL

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Work life balance is great

    Cons

    Lack of vision and stable process. Need to use and support outdated technologies.
    No growth opportunities. Frequent layoffs.

    Advice to Management

    Need to treat employees better. Don't trick employees.

    Try to improve on strategies to retain smart professionals.


  8. An honest review

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

    I have been working at AOL

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    flexible work hours, casual dress

    Cons

    very poor leadership at exec level and from VPs up, constant layoffs, political climate, no team work, no accountability, no career growth

    Advice to Management

    Consider: change the CEO, sell, shut down


  9. Think twice before accepting the AOL.com Editorial Fellowship -- Beverly Hills office

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Editorial & Programming Fellow in Beverly Hills, CA
    Former Employee - Editorial & Programming Fellow in Beverly Hills, CA

    I worked at AOL full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The Beverly Hills office is a nice hodgepodge of various AOL functions (including Huffington Post) and you'll work with some of the loveliest people from AOL On (video) to the sales team. If you're a social person, you'll find it easy to make friends & learn a little about what each department contributes to Team AOL.

    Cons

    AOL.com editorial team mismanaged with the managing editor playing favorites to the team's detriment. You'll work hard while chronic under performers (and slackers) are allowed to slide because they have a prior work history and a friendship with the managing editor.

    Homepage output and team morale affected in this working environment.

    Contributions of AOL.com fellow (glorified intern)--taking on extra projects, staying late & working hard won't be rewarded or even recognized. Upper management in constant flux so what you're promised at the start, you probably won't get. Lastly, almost all editorial decisions are dictated by sales goals which doesn't lend itself to a great user experience for the 50+ crowd (the base audience).

    Advice to Management

    Upper management on the opposite coast: Pay more attention to what's happening on the editorial teams in the LA/BH office. Hold managers accountable for the disruption of their team for the benefit of their friends so faulty management skills don't fall on the fellows who are contributing fully, but being paid a fraction of price allotted for good talent.


  10. Uninspired product/tech driven by bloated, spoiled salesforce

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

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    A few good apples, some solid tech assets. Decent benefits.

    Cons

    Salesforce is far too big and far too dominant in driving strategy and operations. They suck the life out of the company and kill profit margins (often with multiple commissions drawn on a single deal). Acquisition strategy is not horrible but is undermined by post-acquisition execution and integration. CEO and management have fullblown collective ADD. Mission is so broad as to justify any change in strategy. Poor prospects for career growth. Sniper layoffs and constant cost cutting. Late to almost every digital battle with half baked products. Inadequate engineering/tech resources behind every product. Passive aggressive culture full of constant disrespect. I could go on. Tim Armstrong is a mess and should be let go but he is chairman of the board etc etc

    Advice to Management

    Split up the company, spin off media, advertising, and subscription business. Barbell strategy is a joke.


  11. Helpful (2)

    Used to be great place to work but business and culture in rapid decline

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Product Manager in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Product Manager in London, England (UK)

    I worked at AOL full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    It still employs some of the brightest and best people around. The benefits are great, especially the nap room where you can sleep off hangovers. It can be quite flexible and the work life balance is fairly good.

    Cons

    DO NOT CONSIDER WORKING THERE IF YOU ARE A WOMAN. UK management is full of sexists and misogynists. There is a massive problem with men only recruiting men in their own image, in the key business decision-making roles. There is also an entrenched culture of bullying in the UK sales team which is top down and nobody seems to care or be doing anything about it. The UK organisation is as dysfunctional as I've ever seen.

    Advice to Management

    International management should do something about the UK management, probably root it out and start again.



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