You probably have heard the news already about American Online cutting jobs - 20% of total headcount last report.
Over in LinkedIn Answers (my new favorite time waster), I posted the following regarding the layoffs:
Having been through layoffs before at other companies I only have one remark - it happens. No business is immune to them anymore.
Because of the service AOL offered (sending HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of expensive unsolicited media disks to unsuspecting mail addresses?), offering dial up Internet access, the writing was on the wall. Eventually other services would eclipse AOL and surpass any product they could ever offer.
I witnessed this in 1994 when early Internet service providers were debuting in the U.S.
AOL was labeled a substandard alternative to "real" Internet access.
Thus businesses and the burgeoning IT culture they created, would never consider AOL anything more than beginner's online access and a service for lonely hearts and seniors.
Internet access would evolve into a commodity and then, a utility.
With utilities, brand no longer matters. There is only the Internet and the need for an IP interface to access it.
Finally, with ubiquitous broadband and endless WiFi networks, AOL seemed to be as relevant as phone cords and packaged software.
I don't think there is a magic bullet which could have saved AOL. It had its time and place and now will reside in the pantheon of companies which once existed in the US landscape.
Enjoy the memories, but refocus on finding the future AOL in your life.
In an unrelated forum, I read that many AOL employees were being given four month severance packages. This is very generous and comes at a good time for obtaining a job. Had these cuts been in December, hiring and interviews would have been few and far between.
I also hope that many AOL'ers took advantage of the potentially huge network of contacts available after having worked at AOL. This alone is the best asset any of them have when determining their career future.
Layoffs stink. I have been through my share of them. However, layoffs are also an opportunity. Leaving a company which is in the midst of a major late-life identity crisis could be the best thing to happen to any person. It opens the doors to a thousand different possibilities all which are better than the last.
One last time "You have mail". Done.
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