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AOL Cutting 2000 Additional Jobs 139

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the never-saw-the-dialup-collapse-coming dept.
butterwise writes "AOL plans to cut 2,000 jobs, or 20 percent of its worldwide workforce, as the Internet division focuses on advertising sales to make up for subscriber losses. 'The latest cuts will pare AOL's staff to 8,000, down from about 18,000 employees in 2001, when the company bought New-York based Time Warner for $124 billion. The combination led to $100 billion in losses and a more than 60 percent drop in Time Warner's stock as customers dropped dial-up Web access.'"
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AOL Cutting 2000 Additional Jobs

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  • "AOL - because online discourse is too intelligent."

    I'm sure that these are mostly support positions, not the chimps who set policy.
  • by oahazmatt (868057) on Monday October 15, 2007 @05:23PM (#20987957) Journal
    Boss to Employees: "Goodbye".

    There, now it's out of the way.
    • by eln (21727) on Monday October 15, 2007 @05:31PM (#20988085) Homepage
      You've got a pink slip!

      For more information, go to AOL Keyword: Unemployment
      • Except they accidentally deleted the email that said they were fired because it was buried in porn and prescription meds emails.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheGeneration (228855)
      I had a friend who worked for AOL. He had bad story after bad story. Apparently their biggest problem is that the execs in Virginia are in an AOL only universe and have no idea that Silicon Valley (not Virginia) sets the pace for the internet.

      I'm willing to bet every single person they lay off is a regular employee and not the management responsible for turning a one-time good service (circa 1996) into a cluster f*ck of bad UI design and pop-up ads.

      I recently used a 6 month free trial that came with my co
      • Re:Obligatory: (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cHiphead (17854) on Monday October 15, 2007 @08:12PM (#20989607)
        I used to work at AOL. I agree with every part except the last part. Time Warner related execs should've all been f'ing fired for letting AOL "buy" them with a merger of overvalued stock options in the first place. AOL had its chance to turn things completely around but the pointy hairs in charge wouldn't listen one bit to reason or common sense, the p-o-s aol 'client' was too precious to do away with due to its perceived 'value' to the marketing and advertising data mining. Ah the sweet irony of their crash and burn, just took a few years longer than expected.

        Frankly, Silicon Valley can go f*ck itself as far as the rest of us geeks with (somewhat) affordable housing is concerned. ;)

        I wish Google would just buy AOL out already, it'd be a real fire sale in terms of the value of the user correlated data mining.

        Cheers.
        • I'm not saying there aren't good software engineers and web developers outside of the bay area. I'm just saying that pool is severely limited. In addition being outside the bay area means you don't have your ear to the ground hearing the far off drum beat of the most promising future techs.

          Those are two important ways that Silicon Valley companies have advantages in the tech industry.
          • I'm not saying there aren't good software engineers and web developers outside of the bay area. I'm just saying that pool is severely limited

            Now there's a sweeping generalization. How did you arrive at that?
            • by oatworm (969674)
              No no... he's absolutely right [google.com]!
              • Yeah you MIT wankers can keep on keepin on. I'll see you once you wake from your wet dream and decide that living in your parents basement just might not be better than admitting that Silicon Valley is where the money is at.
          • by Anubis350 (772791)
            Yeah, 'cause there aren't any engineers at all in the heart of the the world's financial and corporate hub [google.com]....
          • I recently read an article (wish I could find the source now) that studied the "techie density" of people in metropolitan areas across the U.S. Silicon Valley was of course #1, but a close second was the Washington DC metro area which includes the part of northern Virginia where AOL is located.

        • by timeOday (582209)

          AOL had its chance to turn things completely around
          What, by convincing everybody that dialup is better than broadband after all? Time Warner bought in just as AOL's core competency (dialup for Internet novices) was rapidly becoming obsolete.
          • by cHiphead (17854)
            There was internal polling about technology direction, everyone I knew said drop the goddamn client and start development of a real ISP, AOL could've been the new media AND communications platform with internet, phone, tv, etc, etc if they had played it right from the start.
        • by oahazmatt (868057)
          I have to agree with you on the most part, as most of the information I've seen from Time Warner and former Time Warner employees seems to indicated that AOL executives with too much influence have ruined a great many products Time Warner used to have. Hell, CNN went from industry standard to joke in the span of a month and has never really recovered.
      • by stuntpope (19736)

        In Virginia the pool of GOOD web designers and engineers must be tiny.

        Because AOL has, in your opinion, poor design, and because you had a bad experience with an AOL account, you make that conclusion about the talent pool in Virginia? And I suppose one of the best employment markets in the entire country, with some of the highest living standards and educational levels, couldn't attract people with talent? And as another poster noted, NYC is another high-tech hub. The high tech world doesn't revolve around Silicon Valley.

    • by nick_davison (217681) on Monday October 15, 2007 @07:13PM (#20989121)
      AOL's trained its employees too well.

      Boss: You're fired!

      Employee: Sorry, AOL employees only accept termination notices between the hours of 1:13am and 1:16am, Ugandan time. Please call back at this deliberately inconvenient time. Until then, we will continue to bill you for our services.

      Boss [several hours later]: OK, now you're fired!

      Employee: Sorry, please hold.

      Boss [several hours later]: Look, you're freaking fired!

      Employee: OK, I'm going to sign you up for one more month of free employment.

      Boss: I don't want a month's free employment, you're freaking fired, you stupid cretins!

      Employee: I'm sorry, we accidentally disconnected that call. Please begin the process again.

      Management may want to fire them. If the employees have learned anything from their time working there, it'll be next to impossible to make them actually leave. Karma's a bitch.
  • But, I don't feel sorry for AOL.
    So easy to hate them for their horrible business practices.
    May they disappear into dust.
    • >I feel sorry for the canned individuals

      I pity the ones that didn't see this coming.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nwbvt (768631)

      "I feel sorry for the canned individuals"

      Don't. I'm not trying to sound mean, but there is really no reason to feel sorry for them. They get 2 months of severance pay and get to get out before things really get bad (read, bankruptcy). Plus now that they are no longer working for AOL, maybe their neighbors will be willing to befriend them again. They are the lucky ones.

    • by mh1997 (1065630)

      I feel sorry for the canned individuals But, I don't feel sorry for AOL.

      Huh? AOL is a corporation, not a person, it exists on paper. The actions of the corporation are controlled by the individuals (people). So, no you should not feel sorry for the piece of paper that says AOL is a legal entity, nor should you feel sorry for the individuals that caused the behavior that makes you not like AOL.

      Whenever someone loses their job, for cause or not, I feel sad because that person's life is now a mess and there

  • A once crap company company now becoming truly crap: trailerpark online
  • Happy now? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Scottoest (1081663) <scottNO@SPAMbampage.com> on Monday October 15, 2007 @05:27PM (#20988005) Homepage
    I blame this on all of you Slashdotters. For years you just HAD to casually point out how crummy their service is, and how morally repugnant their business practices are, and now look at what has happened!

    Have you no morals? Will you not rest, until every poor person working for an underwhelming ISP has lost their job?

    For shame, Slashdot!

    - Scott

    • by Nairanvac (912343)
      LEAVE AOL ALONE!
    • by rtb61 (674572)
      Of course AOL -> Netscape -> Mozilla -> Firefox, so not all that bad (unless of course you happen to be an IE fundamentalist) ;). What is happening is the web, just like computers is settling down and consolidating. For every player that is tightening their belts there will be dozens disappearing.

      So for AOL Time Warner to move ahead, they will simply have to adjust their business strategies and diversify their involvement in the whole internet/computer technology arena.

      A lot of companies find t

  • AOL and TW Merged (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RajivSLK (398494) on Monday October 15, 2007 @05:27PM (#20988007)
    AOL didn't buy Time Warner, they merged in what was widely consider one of the blunders of the "dot com era". A blunder for TW that is. It is also considered one the smartest things AOL CEO Steve Case ever did. Many people believe that he pulled the wool of Time Warner's eyes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Warner [wikipedia.org]

    • Re:AOL and TW Merged (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2007 @05:32PM (#20988103)
      If you read the link you gave, you will come across the following:

      "In 2000, a new company called AOL Time Warner was created when AOL purchased Time Warner for US$164bn."
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      According to the Wiki you linked they were bought, but it was done in a merger fashion.

      "In 2000, a new company called AOL Time Warner was created when AOL purchased Time Warner for US$164bn.[3] The deal, announced on 10 January 2000[4] and officially filed on 11 February 2000,[5] employed a merger structure in which each original company merged into a newly created entity."
      • Any insight into how AOL had 164 billion dollars? I mean, even if they started with 300 billion, after sending me all those Floppies and CDs over the years how could they have anything left over?
        • by eln (21727)
          Overinflated stock value. Remember, this was in early 2000, when the bubble was still very much inflated. It didn't start to really burst until later that year.
          • by davidsyes (765062)
            Yeh, they were smokin' laced Bubblicious back then. That bubble popped and stuck all over their faces
        • by jbengt (874751)
          I assume, like in most failed mergers, they "leveraged their assets" i.e. borrowed more than they could afford.
      • by davidsyes (765062)
        Well, WHO was the top partner?

        (I'm thinking of the merger picture from I think an Economist or National Geographic or other mag, from about 1994, when two companies "merged"... There was a hand-written caption "Who is the top partner"... It was posted in the Shipping/Receiving/Mail Room area of Bay Networks where I temped back then.)

        (And, to go to the way-back machine, to pull some words from Hall & Oates' "Did It in a Minute"... "If TWO become ONE, who is the ONE TWO beCOMES?"...)
    • Man they bought Atari and then got hit with the video game market crash then they bought AOL just in time for the Dot Bomb...
      The trick is to watch what TW buys. If it currently hot then it is a sure sign the bubble is going to burst.
      On a good not they sold off their holdings in Google in 2004.
    • by ranson (824789)
      Sorry, you are wrong. AOL did, in fact, acquire (read: purchase) Time Warner.
    • by davidsyes (765062)
      "Many people believe that he pulled the wool of Time Warner's eyes."

      OUCH! That must have hurt, spinning a new Case (of) yarn like that...
    • by maxume (22995)
      Huh? Case's AOL shares when from spiffy dot com valuations to crappy old media valuations. He lost billions(on paper).

      I guess he might have improved his 5 or 10 or 20 year position, but 1 billion, 5 billion, what's the difference...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StikyPad (445176)
      I actually had AOL for two reasons. 1) Chat rooms and mail forwarding was faster and easier than usenet, finding FTP dumps, inane IRC rooms, and other "1337" activities. There were no really good news readers (and really still aren't, but fortunately there are decent web interfaces), FTPs would max out and/or go down faster than a Catholic schoolgirl at homecoming, and nobody wanted to DCC to a dialup connection. 2) Back when games required a healthy suspension of disbelief and a metric sh.. well.. a lot
  • by Erris (531066) on Monday October 15, 2007 @05:28PM (#20988025) Homepage Journal

    The death of dial up did not have to be the death of AOL. TW had all sorts of content it could have sold as a subscription to it's user base before they lost it all. Now they are scrambling and suing their fans to keep their media empire alive. More savvy competitors are cutting into their sales via the internet with no base at all. They expect the treats to draw customers.

    • Subscriptions for content never made sense, mostly because you can't stream much of anything over dialup. Once everybody got broadband, AOL got left behind.

      Besides which, how much pull do you think the AOL folks had in TW after the .com bust? (hint: not much.). I understand that TW killing AOL didn't make TONS of sense, given TW's broadband lead, which could easily have been co-marketed, at least. Remember, though, AOL also had a crappy reputation for quality of service (horrific login times once the "
    • They expect the treats to draw customers.
      you do realize that it's not a treat for them to "focus more on advertising to make up for subscriber loss." That just means their current subscribers will see more and thus stupider ads. AOL is like advertisements online as it is. With unbelievable business decisions like this, anything that happened to AOL they brought on themselves.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Dunno about that. I remember, back late 2002-03, hearing a dev manager at AOL mentioning that he thought "broadband might turn out to be one of those 'disruptive technologies'."

      2002!
  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Monday October 15, 2007 @05:29PM (#20988039) Homepage Journal

    more than 60 percent drop in Time Warner's stock as customers dropped dial-up Web access.


    Am I the only person surprised to see this? Considering AOL used to be the top ISP in the country (IIRC), and now the cable companies are instead (like Time Warner), I would have expected that AOL-TimeWarner would have broken even on the deal. Or maybe even come out ahead, considering how much more they can charge for high speed cable modem access, with presumably an easier network to maintain than the phone network that is otherwise beyond their control.

    I don't think there was any great exodus of AOL customers switching to satellite for internet service or anything...
  • The company will begin notifying employees of the cuts tomorrow, AOL spokeswoman Bentley said.

    Back in the .com days, a company I worked for sent out a press release half an hour before the unscheduled meeting where the news broke. By that time, rumors were already circulating. And this wasn't a newsworthy company or even drastic cuts. It's gotta suck when you've got a 20% chance of getting terminated and 24 hours to worry about it.

    • by jeillah (147690)
      Oh they do that all the time. Sometimes weeks in advance. Lot's of work being done on the AOL campus to be sure...
    • If you work for a large corporation, probably the best way to get the latest breaking news (especially news of this type) about your company is from external news sources. Experience has shown that large corporations, for whatever reason, are extremely bad about keeping employees in the loop. Go figure.
      • by tompaulco (629533)
        large corporations, for whatever reason, are extremely bad about keeping employees in the loop. Go figure.
        Large being defined as more than about 5. I know that I have been deliberately kept out of the loop in companies of less than 15 people. For some reason, management thinks they are doing you a favor. My boss actually told me, proudly, "I've been shielding you from most of this nonsense." The nonsense being things I couldn't possibly care about, like how was our series A going, when are we getting thos
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)
      Back in 1985 or so, I worked for a software house (video games and educational software, as it happened) and due to a number of factors which can be conveniently lumped under "bad management", they had to institute massive layoffs. "Black Monday" we called it. No warning, no hint of anything to come ... just "there'll be a meeting at 9:00." As we were heading towards the meeting room, our manager pulled me and another programmer aside and said, "Not you two. See me after the meeting." So we went back to our
  • *ding* "You've been canned!"
  • by stabbycabby (1102591) on Monday October 15, 2007 @05:36PM (#20988157)
    AOL Keyword: Inevitable
  • What happens if AOL goes under? Does AIM Follow? or are those on different networks?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ravenspear (756059)
      The AIM network is run by AOL, although it is separate from their dialup subscriber network. Even if they go under it's unlikely this would be shut down though, too many users and ad revenue. It would most likely be restructured or sold to another party. Even if it did shut down, everyone would just switch to msn or yahoo.
    • Too many people use AIM for it to go. If AOL files chapter 7, someone will buy AIM. It might even be Apple. Apple uses the AIM servers for iChat. I can't see Apple letting AIM go, at least in the short term.
      • Oh, please, let it be Adium. Let Adium grow into a magnificent phoenix. A magnificent, Vista-compatible phoenix. That would be beyond badass.
        • by Ilgaz (86384) *
          That would require a real miracle as Apple shipping the entire OS X Frameworks and XCode to Windows. Adium is a pure OS X Native program and half of the reason why you love it could be that.

    • Its good to see a man who has his priorities in order. Too few of those these days.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday October 15, 2007 @05:38PM (#20988189) Homepage

    AOL just needs to promote itself as a "Web 2.0" company. They are, after all. Social networking? Definitely, they were there at the beginning. User-contributed content? Yes, they have that. Interactive client? Yes, AOL has that too. Mashups on the home page? Yes! Mobile phone capable? Of course. They even had virtual worlds with avatars, back in their Q-Link days.

    • AOL is now run by the same ppl that run TW. That is, they do not understand the net. All they see is ads and are still desperate to figure out how to make money with no work.
    • AOL just needs to promote itself as a "Web 2.0" company.

      AOL Executive #1: Hey, we came out with AOL 2.0 in 1995, wayyyy before Web 2.0. Didn't you receive the CD? If not, do you want one? Or do you want another one? I'll slip a couple in the mail just in case you need one.

      AOL Executive #2: Me too.

      ---

      In all seriousness, AOL announced their Web 2.0 initiative in late 2006: http://dev.aol.com/node/86 [aol.com] . Although, their blog is almost a year out of date, despite the fact that he says "soon!"

      I'll be writing anoth
    • by puppetluva (46903)
      The also have a lot of properties like mapquest.

      They are sitting on a web2.0 goldmine -- they just don't know what to do with it.
  • by GnarlyDoug (1109205) on Monday October 15, 2007 @06:09PM (#20988553)
    There is a problem with organizations. They seek to perpetuate themselves long after their purpose has been met. In AOL's case they made a metric a**-ton of money in the early days of the internet. Now, instead of distributing all that money and selling off divisions when the business model no longer was very viable and sending everybody home rich, they blew it all on trying to buy a new lease on life with Time-Warner.

    This idea that once an organization or business has been created that it should try to exist for the rest of eternity is stupid. Folding before you have uselessly expended all of your capital when you no longer have a viable business model and you are not structured in a manner that allows you to change business models (very hard to do), is not only smart, but it is a fudiciary duty. Throwing all that money away on a long-shot gamble to simply continue existing is silly.

    • by Myopic (18616)
      Interesting point. I wonder why the millions of owners didn't suggest such a selloff.
  • by bigdaddy25fb (1166129) on Monday October 15, 2007 @06:41PM (#20988859) Homepage

    And we are still feeling repercussions from the burst...

    • by aztektum (170569)
      o_O

      Seeing as how AOHELL was around way before the .bomb, I would consider this simply piss poor management rather than fallout.
  • ...were as hard as quitting your account with AOL.

    Employees would get another three months of employment rather than terminated immediately.
    • That only works if you try to quit. After all, I'm sure that AOL had no problem dropping "problem" customers at a moment's notice either...
  • Do they manufacture sealing wax? 33-1/3 LPs? 8-track tapes? What? Don't believe I've heard of them before.
  • Anyone still working for AOL really has a problem reading the writing on the wall, eh? Or maybe they were counting on a nice fat severance pay.

  • The solution is so simple and yet the muckity-mucks at AOL will never get it. Stop putting out a service that sucks, while simultaneously pissing off all your users and pretty much everybody else you ever come into contact with. Sometimes the problem isn't THEM its YOU.

    One sure bet though-- those doing the firing will have nothing to lose-- their golden parachutes are in the bag-- while those getting fired won't get squat.

    Wouldn't it be fun-- just one time-- for a company to decide to lay people off and sta
  • These job cuts are directly related to failed marketing.

    I've been dying to try-out AOL for many years. I heard about it on TV and in newspapers. But I could never 'access' it. I think they lost a lot of money because they kept sending me shiny metal and plastic coffee coasters in the mail and with magazines. It was a very kind gesture on their part. I really like the company as they're funding my coffee habit indirectly. Printing these coasters with their company logo must have cost a lot of money. Maybe th

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