Connecticut College Magazine · Winter 2011

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The Technology Leader: Tim Armstrong '93

The Technology Leader: Tim Armstrong '93
Tim Armstrong '93. Photo by Bob MacDonnell and Xplore Productions

Tim Armstrong '93 is chairman and CEO of AOL. When work travel prevented him from attending the
Centennial celebration in person, he joined the Big Event via video. This article is excerpted from the video transcript.


A lot of the civic engagement that I've experienced in my life, the DNA of it, came from Connecticut College. When I was a freshman, my father lost his job. I had to look to many people at Connecticut College to help me make it through school. I ended up spending a lot of time in different departments and working my way through college. I left Connecticut College feeling very strongly that community was one of the most important aspects of the College, and also of the United States.

I started a newspaper in Boston, which led me into the media space and the Internet space. I had the good fortune to work with Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, and with Rick Scott, who is the current governor of Florida. That led me into working with Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. I was one of the first 50 or 100 employees of Google, and I had the opportunity to help build Google into a global and incredible company.

A couple of years ago, I decided to take the job running AOL. Many people know AOL from its history of connecting people online, but AOL is also one of the first companies to actually put communities together across different segments of the population. That was in AOL's DNA, and I wanted to recapture that.

One of the specific projects we're working on is called Patch.com, which I co-founded with another employee from AOL. With Patch.com we have gone into almost 1,000 towns across the country; digitized all the information about schools, business, government and religious institutions; and put it online. We put a full-time journalist in each of those communities as well. We now have about 15 million users, and we are probably the largest producer of local content in the United States.

We believe that having more information available will bring vitality and jobs into local communities. We believe that civic engagement — online and offline — will help bring back the U.S. economy and strengthen local governments, local businesses and local schools.

At Connecticut College I wrote for The College Voice, I played on the lacrosse team, I did crew for two years, and I was a member of the student government. My experience at Connecticut College taught me how vibrant and important a local community can be. We are trying to bring the same vitality, through Patch.com, to every town in America. By giving every citizen open and fair access to information, we can help the country grow, help our business grow and help our customers grow.

When I think about the 100th anniversary of Connecticut College, I think about what this community has done for thousands of graduates and thousands of people in the New London area. I hope all the graduates and the current students will take the opportunities offered by the changing digital age to support the civic engagement our country needs right now.



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