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Patch Hires First CCO, Defends Performance

Patch announced the appointment of its first chief content officer. Rachel Fishman Feddersen will oversee the Patch consumer strategy and create scaled content and product initiatives to help enhance the user experience across the Patch platform. She will work closely with national, regional and local editorial leadership, Patch’s product and engineering teams, and AOL and Huffington Post Media Group.

“Rachel is a world-class expert at engaging online audiences and connecting communities with the information they care most about – which is the foundation of Patch’s mission,” said Jon Brod, president of AOL Local, Mapping and Ventures and a founder of Patch.

Fishman Feddersen joins Patch from The Parenting Group, where she most recently served as editorial director, digital content, strategy and design, overseeing digital development of the Parenting, Babytalk and Conceive brands and their online extensions.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to join Patch,” said Fishman Feddersen.  ”Patch has an enormous opportunity to change the way people consume and share information on a local level, and I am very much looking forward to working with the residents of Patch communities, our editors, and the rest of the team to create the type of experiences that will engage and delight the Patch audience.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Patch’s most recent earnings call for investors where AOL CEO Tim Armstrong defended the company he cofounded, which according to some experts and insiders,  is experiencing estimated losses of $150 million, investor frustration, and overall underperformance.

Here’s some of what he had to say:

One topic that gets a lot of discussion from investors is Patch, and I wanted to give a deeper dive into that product. We believe this is a great investment for our shareholders, and we remain very excited about the Patch opportunity.

Patch ended Q4 in 863 towns and had roughly 10 million unique users –publicly, although we see a much higher number internally. The average Patch town is 13.9 months old. Patch ended Q4 as the number four local property on the web, and in a vintage usage case for Patch users, Patches launched over a year ago grew at 182%. Patches that were launched in the past year grown at 768%. We now have 14,000 bloggers signed up for the Patch platform. User comments, registered users, newsletters are all up 500% year over year. Patch ended Q4 with roughly 6,500 advertisers. Patch’s sales force ended Q4 with 230 people, with the average tenure being about eight months.

Now Patch is a highly scrutinized investment by our management team and our Board. Patch is not a pet project. Patch is a business that meets deep consumer needs and advertiser needs.We are serving the highest [GDP] towns in the United States with high quality information and services, and we expect to make a lot of progress on revenue in 2012. 2011 should also be the high water mark for our Patch investment, and I would expect to see meaningful improvements on the economics of Patch during the year.

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