AOL

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AOL Reviews

Updated Jul 29, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.3 612 reviews

65% Approve of the CEO

AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong

Tim Armstrong

(335 ratings)

55% of employees recommend this company to a friend

Review Highlights

Pros
  • flexible work/life balance (although hours can be long) (in 82 reviews)

  • Or if you want to work from home (in 21 reviews)


Cons
  • Senior management talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk (in 27 reviews)

  • The department you work in determines what kind of work life balance you will have (in 10 reviews)

More Highlights
612 Employee Reviews
in
    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    Horrible place to spend your day

    Director (Current Employee) New York, NY

    ProsThe compensation is decent and competitive.

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

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Pretentious, washed up and over-valued.

    Product Manager (Current Employee) New York, NY

    ProsCompetitive 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.

    ConsThe 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 Senior ManagementNo 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    4 people found this helpful  

    Continual layoffs destroy morale. Exceptionally poor management.

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsMany 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.

    ConsNo 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 Senior ManagementFirst 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Poor management, weak vision, weird bets, uncritical thinking

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsThere 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.

    ConsChaotic, 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Management seems to be driving talent away

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsStoried past, could be a springboard for greatness

    ConsManagement 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 Senior ManagementBe serious about attracting and keeping top talent.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    8 people found this helpful  

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

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsThe 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.

    ConsWhere 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 Senior ManagementSenior 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    5 people found this helpful  

    Warning, layoffs pending again!

    Director (Current Employee) Dulles, VA

    ProsGreat 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

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

    Advice to Senior ManagementLeave. Change management through several levels.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

     

    Internal Audit Manager

    Internal Audit Manager (Former Employee) Washington, DC

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

    ConsCost cutting focus is driving good people away.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    No work life balance, bureaucratic policies

    Finance (Former Employee)

    ProsDecent benefits, free beverages, nice office space.

    ConsDespite 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 Senior ManagementEnforce 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Great people, good vibe, poor long term prospects.

    Senior Software Engineer (Current Employee) Dublin, Dublin (Ireland)

    Pros25 days holidays
    Working from home option for some employees
    Decent benefits: Gym, social club
    Top class engineering talent.
    Opportunities to work on interesting projects affecting millions of people.

    ConsDoesn't reward staff. Bonuses cut this year, token payrises given with promotions, <1% annual payrises. Effectively paycuts when bonus cuts taken into account.

    3 months notice needed to leave the company for new hires, 2 months for existing employees.

    Managers are very poor on communication with employees. May only have meetings with manager a couple of times a year. No discussion on opportunities to progress and grow.

    Advice to Senior ManagementSort things out regarding career and advancement opportunities for performing staff.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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