EIC Brian Farnham Leaving Patch to Explore ‘Other Startup Opportunities’

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Patch editor-in-chief Brian Farnham has announced he is leaving the AOL network of hyperlocal sites after four years on the job. A Patch spokesperson said the move was “100%” Farnham’s decision.

Rachel Fishman Feddersen, who joined Patch as chief content officer in February, will now fully take over the editorial side of the operation.

Farnham, formerly the editor-in-chief of Time Out New York, wrote in a blog post that he feels confident he is leaving the growing brand at a good time. In fact, he wrote, he chose to depart partially because Patch has becomes too established.

“Taking leave of Patch ain’t easy, but let me try to boil down why I’m doing so: it turns out I really love creating things from scratch, and while Patch is in a continual process of truly fascinating evolution and only a toddler of a company, it has definitely left “scratch” in the dust. So I’m heading off to explore some other startup opportunities,” he wrote in the post.

He continued:

I didn’t make this decision lightly, and I wouldn’t be able to pull the trigger if I didn’t feel Patch were in good shape and in great hands. One of several bittersweet feelings I’m having right now is the fact that Patch is enjoying such palpable momentum as a business. We’ve always joked that Patch is a bus we’re building while it runs at top speed — well, it feels like we’ve stopped wobbling and fishtailing from the fast start and now we’re cruising.

There’s still a lot of work left to do, of course, but I have to say I love how that work is getting organized and knocked out – especially on the revenue side. Mark Josephson and his team are killing it right now. And on the content side, same thing. I’ve only worked with Rachel Feddersen for about six weeks now but I have loved the ideas and focus she has brought to Patch. I’ve already learned a ton from her, and I’m sad to have to give up that partnership.

Farnham and Jon Brod, who oversees Patch as president of AOL Ventures, Local, and Mapping, have been friends for 20 years. Brod spoke fondly about his colleague during a call announcing the news to Patch staff and followed those words up with a tribute in the comments section of Farnham’s post:

“There would be no Patch without Brian, but I’m happy to say we won’t have to exist without him once he exits, either: he has agreed to join our Advisory Board and will continue to be a source of support and guidance for Patch…. We wouldn’t be in such a great place, with incredible momentum and so many wins under our belt, without Brian’s contributions, passion, and insights. He has also been a terrific partner to Rachel in strengthening and innovating Patch’s content. Rachel will forge ahead and continue to lead the editorial organization with great expertise and enthusiasm.”

Some outlets may spin the departure as Farnham and Feddersen being unable to work together, but the truth seems to be that Farnham succeeded in what he set out to do at Patch and missed the startup world. When he left Time Out, he said he looked forward to helping build out Patch, which was better funded than most startups but had a similar ethos. Four years later, it makes sense for him to step down and go to work building something else. Feddersen, whose expertise lies in expanding successful editorial concepts to bigger platforms, seems like a good person to continue his progress.

Regardless, Farnham will be missed. Patch communications VP Janine Iamunno called him “not just one of my favorite colleagues of all time, but one of my favorite people of all time.”

Noah Davis is a senior editor at Street Fight.


Related Street Fight content:

EIC Brian Farnham on Patch’s Local-National Dance With HuffPo (4/13/2011)

Memo From Patch EIC: More Articles = More UVs (5/18/2011)