Complete History of AOL Layoffs, 1996-2010

Total AOL layoffs stand at about 18,765 people (see list below, fully updated), from a high of 20,000 to my estimate of 24,000 employed by AOL in its heyday.

This is my personal, fully updated list of AOL layoffs from 1996 to 2010. The chart I’ve included is an amalgam of three older charts: my last chart, which was built off of Owen Thomas’ in late 2007, and Alley Insider’s Nov., 2009 chart.

Mine are the only charts which count the pre-2001 layoffs and many layoffs that Owen didn’t check into, giving you a much more complete picture. This chart also corrects Alley Insider’s Nov., 2009 AOL layoff chart, which incorrectly predicted 2,200 layoffs for Dec. 2009.

My first chart (the one I made in 2007) also incorrectly counted a 2005 layoff as happening again in 2006, and counted one Dec. 2006 layoff as happening twice (I hate sloppy editing!), so I’ve fixed the chart and the list that follows it to correct those errors as well.

AOL Layoffs, 1996-2010 - click here for full-size chart

(Click chart or click here for full-size version)

I cleaned the chart up a little for publication, so here’s the obligatory link to the online chart-maker. The chart was created on, and is hosted by,

Layoffs from most to least recent (in reverse order):

  • Jan. 2010: 1400 – Alley Insider – ostensibly based on company spokeswoman Patricia Primrose’s statement that 1100 AOLers took the VSP from Nov.-Dec., 2009. This helps Alley Insider reach Tim Armstrong’s target figure, mentioned in AOL’s 8-K filings, of 2500 people laid off.
  • Dec. 2009: 1100 – the amount of people who took the VSP (Voluntary Seperation Package) between Nov.-Dec., 2009. People voluntary quit in exchange for better severance packages than those who elected to stay on until formal layoffs.
  • March 2009: 500 – this is my figure, based on 100 Chinese AOLers let go in March 2009, and “small” or rolling layoffs in effect in the US.
  • Jan.-Dec. 2008: 530 (taken from Alley Insider’s chart – they list no specific source, and there are no confirmed sources online).
  • Jan.-Dec. 2007: 2000 (no source, but insiders claim “rolling layoffs”, in which small groups are laid off all year long, were in effect).
  • December 2007: 100 – (this figure is pure speculation, but believed to be accurate) Silicon Alley Insider
  • October 2007: 2000 – Silicon Alley Insider
  • February 2007: 600 – (couldn’t find a working link for this; might not be accurate) Washington Post
  • December 2006: 500 – CRN
  • October 2006: 1400 – The Consumerist
  • May 2006: 1300 – BBC
  • October 2005: 700 – USA Today
  • December 2004: 750-950 (depends on source) – 750: C|Net or 950: Slashdot
  • December 2003: 450 – C|Net
  • July 2003: 50 – ZDNet
  • December 2002: 300 – WinInsider
  • November 2002: 90 – ClickZ
  • May 2002: 140 – Washington Post Pay-to-Access
  • August, 2001: 1200 – ZDNet
  • January 2001: 2400 – ZDNet
  • March 1999: 850 – Washington Post
  • November 1998: 105 – C|Net
  • November 1996: 300 – C|Net

For more about the layoffs, check my AOL Layoffs section.

7 thoughts on “Complete History of AOL Layoffs, 1996-2010

  1. Who is your auntie? Don’t know if she reads my blog (obviously!) but tell her she can get in touch with me via my email or contact form in this blog’s sidebar if she wants to discuss the layoffs or anything else going on at AOL. Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. loust service at aol
    i have been with aol since 2001and in that time i have found many problems with this company. i was charged for 2 years for 2 accounts when i only had one the refund was a joke and then for days i was not able to send or receive mail or else something else had gone wrong…………this should be investigated as they are taking my money and giving lousy servive and i do not wish to speak to anyone in india,i dont think i should have to pay for this insanity


  3. My best friend was laid off from AOL in January. He said their buy-out package was “insulting”, and that they were getting no WARN act funds because the beancounters calculated the layoff numbers down to the max they could shed without activating WARN–in his case, the Dulles layoffs missed WARN by ONE employee being “spared”.
    He also said that his VP called everyone individually to give them “information regarding the upcoming restructuring”. For the first group of people went in, this VP was brutally honest (most of them were told they had about a 75% chance of getting laid off). Then, right before my friend was supposed to receive his layoff lottery chance speech, a SysOps bigwig (not the great David Cole, who took an early buyout in November 2009) came into this particular VP’s office and closed the door. Suddenly, everyone who got interviewed by this VP were told that their chances were 50-50 at worst. It wasn’t until his team’s weekly meeting that the team leader spelled it out: The VP in question was deliberately understating the likelihood of anyone in his group getting a layoff–even at the 75% level(!) Everybody in the room was told by this chief that, unless you were a true “rock star”, you stood between 80 and 90 percent getting laid off. Sure enough, my friend checked his e-mail around 7PM and found one of those dreaded “You must attend a mandatory meeting in ___ at ___”.
    I feel bad for the people left at AOL. The morale must be TERRIBLE. Worse yet, the Host Processing Metrics complex that I completely reworked in the 7 years there would no longer have anyone to maintain it. The only reason it didn’t die when *I* left is because I was able to get my friend up to speed on it while we were sharing an office. My friend said that, as far as he knew, NOBODY understood exactly how HPM works, where it gets it data, etc., and that the first time something went wrong and people’s reports didn’t generated, there truly would be Hell to pay.


  4. So how does Host Processing Metrics work? From the name I’m guessing it’s a server-side parser for AOL’s website stats?
    Absolutely true about WARN. This is the thing with the long-term faithful at AOL…they didn’t believe me when I told them on Alley Insider that Tim was going to hang their asses upside down to dry on its spike (I put it a lot nicer and more helpfully than that, but still…they thumbed me down like I was Satan or something) .
    Then exactly what I predicted with WARN happened (he avoided having to follow its requirements by a hair) and they’re all crying in the comments later, “But, but, but…” like they couldn’t see it coming. Yeah, OK, whatever.
    Now that it’s a publicly traded company, Tim is going to work (around) things like WARN to keep the numbers lean and mean for stockholders, who still aren’t making a penny on AOL unless they short the stock (according to scuttlebutt I’ve been privy to, they’re making small fortunes on shorts).


  5. Pingback: History of AOL’s Layoffs, 1996-2007 « Anti-AOL -An InTooLate Production

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