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Patch was never the cash cow that former-AOL CEO Tim Armstrong predicted it would be. When he bought the company in 2009, he hoped its network of hyperlocal sites would, in aggregate, generate enough reach and revenue to transform it into an advertising behemoth. Those plans didn’t pan out, however, and in 2014 AOL sold Patch to an investment firm. Patch went on to become profitable, but only after significant downsizing and reduced coverage.

But even though Patch as a whole didn’t flourish, a lot of its individual sites found traction, and this opened a lot of entrepreneurial journalists’ eyes to the potential for lean local news sites in underserved communities. One of those journalists was Tom Sofield. After reporting for several years at a Patch site in Levittown, PA, he saw there was a real market for the type of news he was providing. …


Simon Owens

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