AOL CEO Pay Drops 46% to $6.48 Million

AOL Inc., the owner of the Huffington Post and TechCrunch, said Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong was paid $6.48 million last year, a 46 percent decline from 2012, when he was awarded larger stock options.

Armstrong’s compensation last year included a salary of $1 million, $3.3 million in stock and option awards, and $2.17 million in non-equity incentive compensation, the New York-based company said today in a filing. In 2012, his total was $12.1 million, including $7.8 million in stock and option awards.

While sites such as Huffington Post have helped fuel 11 straight quarters of advertising revenue growth, Armstrong is now betting a bigger part of the company’s future on Internet ad services. Separately, his effort to create a nationwide local-news service faltered. AOL agreed this year to sell the majority of that operation, called Patch, to Hale Global, an investment firm that specializes in distressed businesses.

Armstrong’s stock option awards last year totaled $1.04 million compared with $5.05 million in 2012, when he renegotiated his contract. He also received a bonus of $500,000 in 2012 for his role in the sale of patents to Microsoft Corp.

While the company’s shares have risen more than 70 percent under Armstrong since AOL was spun off from Time Warner Inc. in 2009, the CEO has drawn headlines for gaffes that have sometimes distracted from his successes. In February, he apologized and was forced to backtrack on a 401(k) policy change that singled out costs associated with two pregnancies. Last year, he issued a mea culpa after publicly firing an employee.

Armstrong is now turning his focus to ad services, the fastest growing part of his business. Last month, AOL introduced a system that helps companies automate the buying and selling online ads. The program lets publishers sell space on websites and digital videos using software.

AOL shares have dropped 9.1 percent this year. They rose 4.5 percent to $42.39 at the close in New York.

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