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Is AOL Finally Crashing and Burning?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the got-enough-coffee-coasters-thanks dept.

America Online 193

An anonymous reader writes "AOL's disastrous quarterly report showed cash from continuing operations was down 44% from a year ago (adjusted operating income was down 37%), as it continues a rocky transition from monthly subscription fees to advertising. (Their quarterly report also notes 'the cessation of large-scale access subscriber acquisition campaigns' — investor-speak for the fact that AOL will finally stop mass mailings of free trial accounts.) Unfortunately, AOL's advertising business 'did even worse. Its revenues declined by $110 million... every single segment is down.' AOL has already lost 86% of the 30 million subscribers it reported in 2001 — down to just 4.3 million — but advertising hasn't yet filled the gap (possibly because many AOL ads had been displayed to the users AOL no longer has). But at least, as one technology blogger notes, AOL has finally released a mobile application, 'in the new definition of "late to the party."'"

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They still mail CDs ?? (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179596)

They still mail CDs?? Wow, I haven't gotten one in the mail since 2000. Hopefully they will get some new management, either people or new ideas, in time to save the business.

Re:They still mail CDs ?? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179616)

Hopefully they will get some new management, either people or new ideas, in time to save the business.

Why? did you grow attached to them emotionally? did anyone?

Re:They still mail CDs ?? (2, Funny)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179640)

I used them as coasters. New ones came regularly in the mail. I always thought that AOL stood for American Organization of Lamers.

Re:They still mail CDs ?? (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179844)

>> I used them as coasters.

Yeah, they fit perfectly in the cupholder on my machine.

Re:They still mail CDs ?? (0, Redundant)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180182)

Yeah, they fit perfectly in the cupholder on my machine.

I'm not sure this is the time or place to break it to you - but that's no cupholder.

Kids these days. Don't know anything.

Re:They still mail CDs ?? (1)

DarkTempes (822722) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180538)

I thank you, kind sir, for much laughter.

Re:They still mail CDs ?? (3, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179772)

The CD's? No, I pretty much hated them. The floppies though? Now those were cool. AOL ensured that no one ever had to actually buy their own disks.

Re:They still mail CDs ?? (3, Interesting)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179686)

The CDs often came in very nice cases. I painted some and used them whenever I wanted to hide a burned CD in a geocache.

Future generations won't understand... (3, Funny)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179832)

just how funny a list of 101 uses for AOL disks really is.
http://www.joke-archives.com/aol/aoldisk.html [joke-archives.com]

Damn shame, kids won't have anything to shove under the front legs of a pinball machine

Re:Future generations won't understand... (-1, Offtopic)

jenn_13 (1123793) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179892)

Warning: the linked page is in Comic Sans. The goggles, they do nothing!!!

Re:Future generations won't understand... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180212)

On the internet, having a good "enforced minimalism" stylesheet to force on unruly pages can be a lifesaver...

What would you do? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179598)

So what would you do if you were running AOL?

    --someone with a friend there

Re:What would you do? (2, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179624)

"So what would you do if you were running AOL?"

It's too late. The relentless determination to suck despite years of criticism is irreversible.

The brand is tainted, sell it off.

Re:What would you do? (2, Funny)

DevConcepts (1194347) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179648)

A friend on AOL... Sure.... Actually I have a friend I have been trying to get off of AOHell for years. All you can do is try to teach them about the "Real" internet and introduce them to Firefox or Chrome and whatever email program of they don't want to use web based email. Also remember to secure their computer real good because AOL has been doing the babysitting for them and they will be in the wild wild intertubes!

Re:What would you do? (4, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179656)

FTFA:

Tim Armstrong, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Although we have much more significant goals for the future of AOL, we are pleased with this quarter's internal and external trends."

According to the report they went from a $90M net profit last year to a $1B net loss this year. I'm glad the CEO is pleased, but If I worked there I'd be looking for another job.

Re:What would you do? (1)

jewishbaconzombies (1861376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179714)

Guess who was the last company to lose 1 billion in income in the high-tech space in a single year. Atari - 1983 - (adjusted for inflation) they lost 1.06 to 1.5 billion in one year, and were dumped shortly afterwards.

Re:What would you do? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179960)

Certainly not the last one - apple lost $1.8bn two years running in the mid 90s, and that's not even adjusted for inflation.

Re:What would you do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33180270)

The parent is referring to companies whose net revenue declined by $1B in a single year, not those who lost $1B or more. Apple has never done that (but don't give up hope!)

Re:What would you do? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180488)

Yes, yes it has, twice, in the mid ninties, when it lost $1.8bn per year, two years running.

Re:What would you do? (1)

Tassach (137772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180516)

But no one else besides Apple has the patented Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field.

Re:What would you do? (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180348)

Certainly not the last one - apple lost $1.8bn two years running in the mid 90s, and that's not even adjusted for inflation.

There you go, it's the exception that proves the rule.

(It's a good thing nobody actually knows what that expression means, or I'd sound like an idiot!)

Re:What would you do? (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180612)

Er, even if it's true that no one knows what that means, it doesn't take an Einstein to query "What rule?" So you still sound like an idiot. :p

Re:What would you do? (1)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179730)

The CEO will probably be paid a large bonus whether he drives the company out of existence or makes it profitable. That's how American corporations work, generally.

Re:What would you do? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33180136)

The CEO will probably be paid a large bonus whether he drives the company out of existence...

If the CEO is able to drive AOL out of existence, he deserves to get paid a large bonus for such a tremendous public service.

Re:What would you do? (1)

greybush (1873710) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179990)

The really sad part is that the people that work there haven't learned any lessons from AOL's failure. I work for another tech company not far from AOL in Dulles where a few of AOL's "managers" have migrated. These people are the worst or the best depending on your perspective; they can spend months in meetings justifying their existence while not creating a single thing other than paper. Their ineptitude is only surpassed by their ignorance. It is little wonder that with "managers" like this that AOL failed.

Re:What would you do? (1)

Tassach (137772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180558)

I work for another tech company not far from AOL in Dulles where a few of AOL's "managers" have migrated.

Sunrocket.com [wikipedia.org] was mostly run by ex-AOL managers. "Epic Fail" is about the only way to describe that decision.

In my experience, the majority of AOL techies are top notch (At least the ones in Dulles. Don't even get me started about the clowns from Bangalore).

Management, on the other hand... well, there are some (not many) good ones, but within AOL they're hamstrung by the poisonous corporate culture. The bad ones carry the taint of that culture elsewhere and infect other companies with it.

Re:What would you do? (4, Interesting)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179808)

Cash in on the Web 2.0 fad. Hire a hundred bloggers to blog all day long. Turn AOL.com into a huge social network, rivaling Facebook. Everyone with an AOL account is automatically added to the social network, with all privacy defaults set to "disallow all but my friends". Advertise on television that AOL is now web 2.0, more private than Facebook, and hiring bloggers.

Do they still own the Netscape brand? If so, I'd resurrect it. Make a bootable Linux CD-ROM that has Firefox on it, connects to AOL, and uses KDE as a desktop. Put them in computer stores and gaming stores. Sell them for $1 or make them free.

They could still make it through this.

Re:What would you do? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33180372)

Advertise on television that AOL is now web 2.0, more private than Facebook, and hiring bloggers.

Facebook has been web 2.0 for ages. AOL needs to go for at least web 2.5 if it wants to get ahead.

Re:What would you do? (1)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180374)

Everyone with an AOL account is automatically added to the social network, with all privacy defaults set to "disallow all but my friends".

Just to clarify... that would include AIM-only accounts. I know plenty of people that were never full AOL members but still have (or have access to) AIM accounts. And the more FB chat sucks, the more people are returning every once in a while to the dedicated IM land of buddy lists.

Good reason to buy back ICQ... Oh, and maybe make an investment in Skype too.

Re:What would you do? (5, Informative)

Tassach (137772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180426)

Cash in on the Web 2.0 fad. Hire a hundred bloggers to blog all day long. Turn AOL.com into a huge social network, rivaling Facebook

They tried this, multiple times. And failed, multiple times. I know, I was deeply involved with the effort. First came AIMPages.com. Millions of dollars spent, negligible uptake. Then they tried building another social network based off of the old Member Directory. That never even made it out the door. Then they bought Bebo for about 5x what it was worth and only succeeded in driving away those customers it already had.

There are a lot of really smart people at AOL down in the trenches -- some of the most knowledgeable DBAs, SAs, and developers I've worked with in 20 years I met at AOL. Most of the smart ones fled or got laid off but I still know a few of the good ones who are still there, and they are the only reason anything at AOL works at all.

Executive leadership is lacking, to say the least, and they cripple every product by trying to emulate every feature a competitor has without understanding that "actually working" and "not being slow as crap" are essential features for any product. If AOL was building houses, you'd have 3 dozen managers obsessing over having marble counters, oak cabinets, and Italian tile floors, and ignoring the workers who were telling them that the roof leaked, the plumbing backed up, and the foundation was cracked.

Netscape? They pretty well killed that brand off years ago. They bought Netscape for the traffic going to the portal site, which is why they created the Mozilla foundation and dropped the browser code like a hot potato. And the traffic that they paid so much to get? 90% of it was gone within a year of the takeover. They made a half-assed attempt to resurrect it as a Digg-style social networking site, but that took off like a lead balloon.

Re:What would you do? (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180734)

Oh well. Seems like there should be something that can be done with all those user accounts. Bringing in new management could only help, if they're that incompetent.

Re:What would you do? (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180788)

AOL's bumbling foray into "social media" was their acquisition of Bebo [wikipedia.org] . They paid $850 million in 2008 and sold it in 2010 (26 months later) for $10 million.

Re:What would you do? (3, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179846)

I've heard there are some good tractor trailer training schools out there ...

Re:What would you do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33180034)

Tell him to get a job at SCO.

What does AOL even do? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179604)

See title.

I really dunno what they do anymore. They still in the ISP business or what?

Re:What does AOL even do? (3, Funny)

ratsouffle (1873428) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179622)

I think the issue here is that AOL are essentially in the same market segment as ZOMBO.COM, which does everything AOL does, better.

Re:What does AOL even do? (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180438)

Definitely one of the more put-together sites on the web. It sounds cliche, but I'd have to say that everything's possible at Zombo.com.

They own a gajillion blogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179634)

Things like Engadget, TMZ, etc.

In this economy, AOL's going broke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33180066)

Me too!

But then how will we build our AOL CD Thones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179614)

Obligatory link to the most awesome indication [stupidco.com] that AOL had lost the plot with regards to CD mailings.

There goes the Eternal September (4, Funny)

krzysz00 (1842280) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179638)

With AOL dead, one of the primary causes of the Eternal September is over. (People won't be geting their Usenet through AOL anymore).

Re:There goes the Eternal September (2, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179692)

Me too!








;)
I kid, I kid.

Re:There goes the Eternal September (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179870)

Me too!

Please add me to the list

I kid, I kid.

No, me kid, you Jane!

Re:There goes the Eternal September (3, Informative)

tecker (793737) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179952)

(People won't be geting their Usenet through AOL anymore).

They already dont. If Eternal September hasn't ended by now then Usenet is screwed. According to Wikipedia article on eternal september [wikipedia.org] :

On February 9, 2005, AOL discontinued newsgroup access through its service, which it announced on January 25, 2005.

Best start hunting the source of infection again.

Re:There goes the Eternal September (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33180140)

So does that mean we tell Green Day to wake up now?

Re:There goes the Eternal September (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33180804)

The current source of infection is giggle grips, that's well known.

Re:There goes the Eternal September (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33180666)

Yeah, but unfortunately Google Groups is still there to pick up the slack.

Fluoridated Nation (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179646)

Poison Tap Water Exposed As Soft Kill Weapon [infowars.com]

Water fluoridation has come to refer to the addition of over 40 chemicals into the water supply that synergistically come together to wreak havoc on the body and its processes. Paul Joseph Watson and Matt Ryan recently came together to expose what water fluoridation really amounts to: disease. Scientists and doctors around the world are speaking out against water fluoridation, and its effects on the human body.
Real or perceived danger?

AO who? (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179654)

I had no idea they were still around. What the hell do they do? Provide dial-up access?

Re:AO who? (2, Interesting)

alienunknown (1279178) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179754)

AOL own a lot of websites. For example, AOL owns the blogs Engadget and Joystiq which are both quite popular.

Re:AO who? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179956)

The trouble for AOL is that, while those websites are popular, they are(at best) a tiny profitable segment that could never support the mothership.

Beyond the fact that many websites don't actually run a profit, the ones that do often do because you can trivially run them with fairly low overhead. No big corporate HQ, with lightbulbs and janitors and suits, no fancy press room, just some anonymous httpd processes running at CDNs-R-US and some stringers banging away at their laptops at home. If you are lucky, with a dash of good, such a model will pay the stringers, and the hosting bills, and maybe have something left over; but it is vanishingly unlikely that there will be enough on top to support a bloated managerial empire.

AOL, in its heyday(or, actually a bit after its heyday, which is why brokering the merger was so brilliant on the AOL side) was considered Big and Serious enough to merge with Time Warner, a company with actual revenue and actual hope. There is no way a behemoth of that size is going to be supported by Engadget and the like.

Dan's article [dansdata.com] is worth a read.

Re:AO who? (2, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180506)

Indeed, you need about 20 people to run those websites, at most, and maybe $2 million a year, tops. I don't expect ad revenue to be more than about $3 million - $4 million a year, which is enough for a couple people to get rich.

They still have about 5,000 employees, though.

That's 4,980 too many to be supported by their website revenues, and is why they are losing billions with a 'b' dollars every year.

They're the 'A' in A.I.M. (3, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179850)

You know, they're the people that run those "AIM" servers that you can access with Pidgin, Trillian, etc.

Re:They're the 'A' in A.I.M. (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180512)

Does anybody still use AIM? Wow. That's like using ICQ.

Dominant Businesses (4, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179660)

These companies that reign on top for years like AOL always seem to be almost unable to change and adapt to new times and technology. They get locked in to their success to the point that they stagnate. When change happens they just get left behind.

Re:Dominant Businesses (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179726)

The problem was they were raking it in too thick to want to change until it was too late. The other point is that most companies don't stay in business forever. They have been around 27 years and has made more total profit than 99% of businesses. Their time is just over and I don't think anything can reverse their downward momentum. Last one to leave AOL, please turn off the light.

Re:Dominant Businesses (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179742)

The problem was they were raking it in too thick to want to change until it was too late.

Acting like you are secure as #1 is the quickest way to end up in the #2 spot. It's either incompetence, or someone relevant had something to gain by not keeping AOL going.

Re:Dominant Businesses (5, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179842)

If you are making $200,000 with $1,000,000 bonuses, you have a vested interest in things NOT changing. Many businesses have higher up employees who get bonuses greater than their base salary, and those guys don't want to sacrifice short term profits for long term stability. "Why should I get my bonus cut in half due to reinvestment just to make the business stronger in 10 years, when I likely won't be here?". The bank industry is another example of how this screws up a business. Managers are more worried about their quarterly reports than the long term stability of the company.

This is the prime example of the disadvantage of publicly owned companies. While it is easier to get capital for expansion, privately held companies tend to have longer term thinking. Dominos pizza didn't go public until 2004, and did an excellent job of expanding before then. Chick-fil-A is privately held and the 2nd largest chicken restaurant chain the in US and wildly profitable due to a long term approach to business. There are other examples as well. AOL is the counterexample, where they focused on short term gains and had little (or poorly thought out) long term planning.

Re:Dominant Businesses (2, Interesting)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180630)

In-N-Out Burger is another one you've probably never heard of if you haven't been to the southwest. Easily the most popular fast food joint in several large cities, yet there are only a handful of them because it isn't just privately owned, it's family owned. No franchising, and probably never will be any.

They treat their employees like gold too. Have you ever heard of a fast food place that pays its managers $100,000 a year to start? Assistant managers start at a little under $60,000. Part-time workers start at $10 an hour.

If you've never been, and you happen to be in Arizon, California, or Nevada, you should definitely hit up an In-N-Out Burger.

Re:Dominant Businesses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179980)

When they tried to adapt before they "merged" with Time-Warner and that really worked out badly. (While it was accounted as a merger it was a takeover by AOL in reality)

Re:Dominant Businesses (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33180300)

On the other hand, why not design a business to be like that from the start? When you find or create a new market, design your business to ride it all the way up, and watch for new technologies that eliminate its usefulness, and ride it down while maintaining your operations economically. If done right, long term investors could still make a lot of money by holding their stock through to when the business dismantles.

This idea that a company has to last forever by doing things so far away from their original purpose is a bit ridiculous. They had an original inspiration and then they try to force subsequent, tangentially related ones. Do one thing, do it well, make your money, and close up shop at the proper time. Seems like the simplest and most natural thing in the world, and no corporation ever does it. They'd much rather fail spectacularly and leave the last stockholders screwed over.

Re:Dominant Businesses (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180712)

It almost seems you are talking about Microsoft (yet, whether the OS market ever changes is to be seen, having an exclusive API is a powerful thing).

Re:Dominant Businesses (2, Insightful)

Jay L (74152) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180836)

I think the companies that *don't* reign on top are also unable to adapt. Most companies do one thing well (at most) - ever - and if that one thing happens to intersect over time with what the market wants, they're successful for as long as that intersection lasts.

Can't say I'm sorry to see them go (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179676)

But then again the main reason I hate them is because I'm a wrestling fan and they got wrestling taken off of TBS.

Re:Can't say I'm sorry to see them go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179780)

Wrestling was on TBS?

Oh, you must mean that terrible acting in variations of boxing rings that used to be on TV. Thank God they're all but gone...

Re:Can't say I'm sorry to see them go (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180642)

I hate to inform you, but if you mean WCW/WWF style wrestling, it's hardly "all but gone." The WWE is more popular than ever, TNA Wrestling is picking up steam, and smaller circuits are proliferating. The... "sport" is at an all-time high.

Re:Can't say I'm sorry to see them go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179814)

Geez. Which is worse? AOL fans or wrestling fans?

Seriously, dude, wrestling?

Re:Can't say I'm sorry to see them go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179816)

So you're a fan of sweaty, juiced-up rednecks hugging each other while wearing bikini briefs? Um, why?

Re:Can't say I'm sorry to see them go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33180116)

well, people like what they like.

i personally find nothing interesting about wrestling, but if you like watching em, what's the big deal?

Re:Can't say I'm sorry to see them go (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179848)

But then again the main reason I hate them is because I'm a wrestling fan and they got wrestling taken off of TBS.

Apparently TBS is a Turner-owned TV station, who got bought by Time Warner at some point, so it's probably more accurate to say that they had a common parent- except that AOL was sold off by them at the end of 2009, so it doesn't affect them any more. Though I assume they lost assloads on the ludicrous price they paid for it at the height of the dotcom boom anyway.

You've Got Fail! (2, Insightful)

jewishbaconzombies (1861376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179696)

I'm surprised they lasted this long - particularly after Warner ditched them. It's a testament to the power of people unwilling to change their email addresses mostly I bet.

Umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179698)

AOL who ?

email accounts (3, Interesting)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179720)

If they went under, what would happen to the millions of aol email accounts still in use? Oh, the humanity! The only time I am ever aware that aol still exists is when my 79 year-old father forwards email to me that was sent to him from one of his elderly, aol-using friends.

Re:email accounts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179776)

Even my silver surfing grandma has graduated from AOL (she uses yahoo branded dsl now).

All companies come and go. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179736)

Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Tumblr and all the current web 2.5 (2.0 was years ago) will be replaced by the next "Big Thing", and AOL might come back as the you nostalgia you lose ISP. In 2020 you will see AOL CDs with new FirefAOL 7.0 with 1 Quadrillion free nanoseconds nanogigabit internet access for your MacOS Liger and Windows 9ista.

Also Linux will still have 0.8% market share.

About freaking time (5, Funny)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179762)

... as it continues a rocky transition from monthly subscription fees to advertising.

Maybe they should go into chat rooms and ask for help...with the CAPS lock on, of course.

Not much under the hood (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179828)

AOL is representative of the Recently Unintended but now Omnipresent American Dream: Continue to fail miserably and pretend it didn't happen.

I tend to think of myself as being connected to what's happening in the internet universe but I am completely unaware of any strategy coming forth from AOL. Ten years after the giant Time Warner AOL merger and these guys spend their dollars taking owners of Advertising.com and Ad.com to court because their domain (not the use of the domain) infringes on AOL's prior use of Advertise.com which they branded Ad.com. What?

Of course AOL has already lost the case in district court against Advertising.com which is noted by the courts as "A generic and descriptive term to the Advertising industry, such that any agency might say they are in the Advertising .com business". Advertising.com loses against Advertise.com [domainnamewire.com]

What else are they working on that would make everyone in America feel so proud to be a part of? I want to give these guys my money. Send me some 1995-era blue-green CDs!

See patch.com (2, Informative)

dino213b (949816) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179840)

"This year, AOL is spending $50 million to expand Patch nationally to hundreds of sites by the end of the year."

http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2010/08/05/with_patch_aol_offers_challenge_to_local_news/?page=full [boston.com]

AOL is going hyperlocal - going to give local newspapers a run for their money.

Gosh! (1)

Telecommando (513768) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179852)

I wonder what all the AOL subscribers will do when AOL goes under?

I guess they'll have to switch over to Prodigy or Compuserve.

and they still screwed up internet meanwhile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179880)

innumerable people use shitty aol messenger. innumerable people use shitty browsers modified and issued by aol. innumerable people do not even know that their legitimate incoming emails are being filtered by aol ... glad it is going down. the next needs to be at&t.

It's Time (1)

thethibs (882667) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179896)

AOL has always been behind the curve. They were the last BBS on the planet to hook up to the internet, and they've had a 90's retro feel ever since.

It's time to put AOL out of its and its users' misery.

MaGuS & FunGi! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33179910)

Go hire Magus and Fungi to save the FateX of AOHell! They're such Hellraisers!

AOL will never be gone. (1)

doctormetal (62102) | more than 4 years ago | (#33179982)

To use a quote from Iron Maiden: Only the good die young, all the evil seems to live forever.

So I think AOL will be here to stay.

One way they have stayed afloat. (3, Interesting)

605dave (722736) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180060)

I just noticed that AOL has appeared on my credit card bill yet again. I have not used the service since the 90s, but I am still forced to call and cancel every two years are so. I have downloaded my transactions for years, and can call up all payments. It's bizarre, after two years, all of sudden a charge will start appearing again. I wonder how many of their subscribers have been repeated scammed like this.

Re:One way they have stayed afloat. (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180242)

Historically, cancelling AOL has often involved canceling your credit card...

Around so long that... (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180068)

I know a guy who has had an AOL account so long that in the early days it was hard-coded into the software.

CAN you even subscribe? (1)

Balthisar (649688) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180122)

If I go to the AOL homepage, there's just a bunch of news and articles. There's no option to subscribe. Heck, do they even still have an AOL client?

Re:CAN you even subscribe? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180340)

There's no option to subscribe. Heck, do they even still have an AOL client?

Click the download link, and you can get to AOL v9.5 [aol.com] , starting at $9.99/mo.

What about winamp? (1)

javajeff (73413) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180174)

What happens to winamp? Perhaps someone can take it over.

Re:What about winamp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33180216)

I like AIMP [www.aimp.ru] .

Rickroll (1)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180302)

Everything is a rickroll

I worked Customer Retention there in 2002. Read on (5, Interesting)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180230)

Brings back memories. People would call up, wait on hold for half an hour or more and end up on a call with me or any other SAVES rep:

*ping* (female phone voice) AOL. Saves. [connect]
Me: Thank you for calling America Online, this is Pezbian. How can I help you have an even better online experience today?
Luser: Cancel my account. (yeah. So original.)
What I'd say while playing Solitaire on the computer: I'm sorry to hear things aren't going well for you. Let's get started.
What I'd be thinking: Okay so what are you? Computer-stupid, no longer in need of training wheels, sick of overpaying or just trying to make a stand?

From there, it was a matter of talking them into staying. I probably gave away a lifetime worth of free service months in two month blocks during the few months I was there. Did it matter? No, and I'll explain why later. If you were a jerk, you got transferred or hung up on. We were taught never to hang up on lusers, but disconnecting the cord from the back of the phone didn't count as a hangup. I did it a couple dozen times when I'd get cursed at. There were often logs from previous support reps in the Merlin system regarding customer behavior so I pretty well knew who was going to be trouble and who was going to get free stuff.

At the end of the call, there were sometimes these "Special Member Benefits" where lusers would hear a speil for something else. I got $1.25 if they would just listen to it. Some people were wise. "Do you get a bonus if I just listen to it?" "Yes I do." "Well since you've helped me so much, you're going to get that bonus." Schweet. While I was there, the SMB was a Sprint long distance deal. Yeah, for a landline. Remember those? I probably got $200 a month just off of those transfers.

Pay: $8 an hour plus bonuses. Bonuses... boy howdy... 80+% of your income. I didn't believe it until I got my first 90-day long-term retention check. That's correct. Your long-term retention bonus was on a 90 day scale. Not a year. Why? Ultimately, it was because the revenue generated by each user for AOL was $125 a month. That's on top of the $23.90 a month they were charging for you to be their lab rat.

I wasn't delusional enough to expect the crazy bonus checks to last forever since the dollars for banner ads (no matter how attention-whoring/seizure-inducing) boom was already crashing hard and popups/pop-unders were starting to become the norm.

The funniest thing about working there was the special event days they'd have where Warner Bros movies that were still in theaters were screened in the call center during work hours. The techs and everyone but SAVES would be watching while SAVES saw it as a distraction from the big money. Some reps were making six figures a year. I kid you not. You were on a tiered scale where you were paid for saves per month and the more you got, the more each one paid you. Those who were making that kind of money had little time for anything else, however. 12-16 hour days non-stop. One lady hadn't had a day off in three months and slept at work sometimes, but she did make $125,000 a year this way.

In the middle of my time there, an "All Hands" meeting was called where everyone in the callcenter went to a big reception center and got put through a big dog and pony show. It was mostly about a new SAVES pay scale change that was more focused on quantity than quality. This wasn't beneficial to my style. I was all about long term. I didn't care about the average $1.50 24-hour or pissant $.50 30-day retention bonuses. I was all about the 90-day kind that paid like $9 each if I remember correctly. I was going to take a big hit on my paychecks to the extent that it just wasn't worth keeping that job.

It's worth mentioning that, during the Q&A portion, a butthurt tech dared ask when the tech support people were going to be paid like Saves reps. The suit on stage snickered slightly while the question was met with groans and laughter from Saves goons like myself. The suit replied that Saves reps work a far more stressful job, make the company more money than tech support reps do and have to be paid more because of it. This was entirely true. Lusers pandered to tech support and if these lusers ever got abusive, techs could hang up on them or transfer them to Saves if they wanted to cancel.

I still had to wait for my aggregated 90-day bonuses to be paid out to me (if you quit, you lost your bonuses) which happened on alternating months so I switched to an emphasis on 24-hour retention, meaning I lied through my teeth. My coach actually liked my new approach because it made her look good even though I had probably 10% 30-day retention (down from 60%) and almost zero 90-day (which meant nothing to me since I'd never see the money anyway). I even pitched Kazaa twice at the very end.

My final day, I decided that for every month I had worked in that hell hole I'd just lay into one belligerent luser and be as rude as possible, but only as return fire. I would shell out free crap to people who were nice, hooking them up any way I could.

One of my five abusive calls was recorded (for training purposes) and became a bit famous for a while among training groups.

Gone was the Tuesday-Wednesday weekend schedule. Gone were the $4000 bonus checks that made me feel like a whore (think Mike Bolton in Office Space after he tells the Bobs he likes Michael Bolton's music). And gone was my general hatred of people. In exchange, my sanity was returned. The next day, my pseudo-alcoholism was gone, I hadn't dreamt of work the previous night, it was Saturday and there was a festival going on in my hometown. I didn't have a job, but my bills were paid with money in the bank long enough to get something else going, which I did.

Shortly after I left, a coworker who was the most cutthroat salesman I've ever known quit because it was too stressful for the money under the new payscale. A few years later, the pay was switched to something like $14 an hour with no bonuses and a certain number and percentage of saves required to stay employed. A year after that, the callcenter was shut down. Good f--king riddance to bad rubbish.

First, they should change their name to... (0, Troll)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180238)

First, they should change their name to America Still Serves Here On-Line Everyone, or ASSHOLE. Then they should give free service to every one who bought stock in TimeWarner-AOL when experts proclaimed them to be the most important player in history of media and journalism only ten years ago. Stock that went from, what?, $100 a share to 10 cents a share?

    Then give free WIFI to everyone whose pension or 401K lost a significant percentage of its value because money managers believed this nonsense.

    Then have a live web-cam reality web show about the lives of the ultra-rich who took all the money from the investors and pension managers and are now living billionaire lives behind closed doors. People like Steven Case and Gerald Levin, remember them from ten years ago? New-Era Business visionaries? Can I get you another drink, sir? Both could be recycling their business talents supervising the night cleanup crew in a bowling alley on the outskirts of Tijuana. Or how about that chicken-brained affirmative-action fuckhead Perkins? Surely there is a high-school in some ghetto somewhere that he can go be a vice-principal in somewhere.

    Jeez, don't get me started. Americans get what they deserve. People generally do, eventually.

Re:First, they should change their name to... (1)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180362)

You imply all Americans deserve to lose everything because a few douchbags got greedy?

I'm sure your homeland is a paragon of civility, honor and integrity. You're such a shining example, after all.

Smells like Eurotrash, long as we're making sweeping generalizations here.

My implications... (1, Troll)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180578)

Loved your post about your AOL work experience, Pezbian. It's the kind of writing that keeps me reading through the inane general comments on Slashdot looking for gems like yours.

 
You imply all Americans deserve to lose everything because a few douchbags got greedy?
I'm sure your homeland is a paragon of civility, honor and integrity. You're such a shining example, after all.
Smells like Eurotrash, long as we're making sweeping generalizations here.

I've lived in the USA all of my life. I've met a wide range of people from all social classes, ethnicity, and occupational backgrounds. I'm in my sixties, I hitchhiked across the USA many times in the 1960s. I've been around the world, but never to a communist country, Africa, or South America. I know Americans; I know America; I've seen America change over a half century.

America is doomed. And they deserve it. It's a nation of self-righteous, over-paid, ignorant peasants who took the greatest country on Earth and transformed it into strip-malled shithole. Other people in other countries have problems, sure, but nothing like this. And while, yes, I'm making sweeping generalizations here, they're all valid and true.

In my experience, the Europeans and other people in the civilized world aren't really interested in what happens to America and Americans anymore. They have more important things to deal with. We really don't matter to them anymore. We no longer have anything to offer them, and they don't find our Disneyland-based reality entertaining anymore.

If I had to sum up the entire 250 years of American vision, dream, and reality in one single image, it would be the 1975 television video of all the helicopters, arriving from the embassy in Saigon full of sleazy low-lifes desperate to come pollute the USA, being dumped into the ocean off the aircraft carrier to make room for more helicopters. All the greed, all the blood, all the lies, all the canned Jesus-sunbeam optimism, all the stupidity of the American experience in one image.

Watch for it, you'll see it again soon in a few years. Same image, but Baghdad instead of Saigon. Same war, same mentally-unbalanced people, different location, same result.

AOL: non-hereditary expression of stupidity? (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180244)

The dumb people who were young once and used AOL have simply not bred children who will also use AOL.

AOL has no purpose.

Given I have an Internet connection, what would be my reason to connect anything to a server in the AOL domain?

Re:AOL: non-hereditary expression of stupidity? (3, Informative)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180472)

Elsewhere I mention my time as a retention rep for AOL. Relevant to both that experience and your post, here's a story:

When I started working for AOL, I already had Internet service through Comcast. While training, I asked if they seriously expected me to get a landline just so I could dial up via 56k modem when I had a 3mbps line already. Nope.

They had the option where you could (oh wow...) run AOL over your existing connection for the same $23.90 (at the time) price. That's right. Run my free AOL employee account over my $50 a month broadband line. While they had AOL Boardband available at the time, it wasn't available in my area for some reason, meaning I couldn't get in on the free bundle as an employee.

Dogfooding is nice, in theory, but I couldn't bring myself to use AOL even just for practice. The service felt condescending, really.

Gee, the horror (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180474)

Gee, the horror,AOL decides to go non subscriber and revenues fall flat. What the hell did ya expect to happen? geezz.

How is the stock still trading? (1)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180490)

How does this stock still trade? Looking at the steadily declining graphs of subscribers and revenue, how can anyone think this is a good investment? Who is buying?

I guess it's one of the unspoken rules of the free market; If money can move freely, it can move stupidly.

Oh how times change. (2, Interesting)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#33180586)

I just realized I'm entirely dependent on AIM. My favorite gadget blog is Engadget. Owned by AOL.

I don't want AOL to die. :(.

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