Patent sales typically have little to do with the average employee, negotiated and transacted by hordes of lawyers. But now these bad boys of the tech world may actually be doing some good this holiday season.
TechCrunch reports that AOL is paying bonuses out to employees in the amount of $1,056. What’s the significance of that number?
Well, as you may recall, AOL sold more than 800 patents earlier this year to Microsoft for a cool $1.056 billion in cash. Coincidence? Probably not.
Of course, the holiday bonuses mark a a very small percentage of the total haul AOL got from the patent sale.
As of last December, AOL employed 5,660 people, including 1,410 in its hyperlocal news network Patch. That means the holiday bonus would cost the company about $6 million, based on last year’s employee count. At the time of the patent sale earlier this year, AOL boss Tim Armstrong noted that the deal would unlock value for shareholders as part of a “strategy to create long-term shareholder value.” Shares of AOL have more than doubled this year, and they are up 68 percent since the patent sale.
AOL has restructured since the beginning of the year, with about 40 employees losing jobs back in March. The company continues to closely monitor expenses, and one could look at the bonuses as a way to keep some of the remaining employees engaged in their jobs during a tense period at the operator of Advertising.com, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Patch and other properties. (AOL posted net income for the first nine months of the year of $1.012 billion, largely based on the patent sale to Microsoft. It lost $9.7 million last year).
TechCrunch’s John Biggs, an AOL employee, wrote of the bonus:
Like Scrooge after discovering the True Spirit Of Christmas, AOL is offering a shiny half-crown (worth $1,056) to the little boy (its employees) as thanks for bringing the prize Turkey from the Poulterer’s this holiday.