Last US Postmaster at AOL Leaving This Friday

I was afraid to believe it, so I emailed the person in question to be sure, but before she could reply (that was only 5 minutes ago) I found a post that confirms that Annalivia Ford is the last Postmaster left at AOL, and unfortunately she will be leaving this Friday (I ran across the news on a Twitter search for “aol sucks”, go figure).

It’s unclear what will happen once Annalivia is gone, but from what she writes on her blog it looks like AOL India will take over US Postmaster operations. Annalivia, as her final parting act, has done a nice re-working of the Postmaster at AOL site, modernizing the layout and adding contact forms for various webmaster issues, including not being able to send or receive email from AOL users.

The website renovation was actually completed last December (it’s hard to believe it’s been that long since I looked at the Postmaster site, but it has) and was not done by Annalivia alone. I’ve updated my AOL Contact Info page to reflect these changes.

3-3-2010, 2:56PM: Annalivia lets me know what’s going on.

By email, she has informed me that:

It’s been getting more and more difficult as we lost more and more staff. On Jan 13, AOL laid off everyone remaining on the US Postmaster team except me and a programmer. At this juncture, the way to contact AOL Postmaster is through the website I linked from my blog. I truly regret not being able to give you a better answer. Thank you for your kind words on your site – the website was in fact my last big project. My manager and I wanted to create a testament, something useful to leave behind.

Be well.

Annalivia Ford
Senior Technical Account Manager
AOL AntiSpam Operations

3-3-2010, 3:51PM: In a sudden fit of good journalism, I finally thought to ask Annalivia if…

She got laid off. It’s the most obvious question but I forgot to ask! So I emailed her again. She very kindly responded with:

I accepted a different position at another company. The joy went out of my work with the loss of my team. Now, I’m off to do something totally different and …no more layoffs 🙂

It must be very demoralizing to see your entire team laid off and to know you’re the only one left. I can’t imagine what it’s like for one person to do the work of an entire department, nor what it must feel like to lose friends, close contacts, and possible mentors on your team. In almost every work situation I’ve been in, I wouldn’t have cared if they took away my boss, but take away my coworkers? It’s unthinkable. I do wish Annalivia the best of luck in her new career.

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)

Click here for the list of AOL layoffs from 1996-2010…

100 More People Laid Off at AOL Today – Chart

Admittedly, I haven’t kept up with how many people get laid off at AOL. There are so many layoffs every year, all year long at AOL, that keeping up is rather time-consuming. Luckily, Alley Insider has picked up where I left off with a much better chart than the one I made (it’s also better than Valleywags’s, which was the one I tried to improve upon) with a new layoff chart of their own.

I like it better than Valleywag’s or my own chart because a) you can see it (I seem to have lost the bigger copy of my chart), 2) it lists the name of the CEO who presided over each layoff in chronological order, and c) it’s bigger than my chart, or did I say that already? oh, and d) it’s up to date, which the other charts no longer are.

AOL Layoffs Chart, 2009, at http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-aol-layoffs-2009-11

If I were to get really ambitious, I’d compare all three charts (it would help if I could see my own chart, of course, but I can’t) and come up with an improved version, if needed, that I could add to this December or next February (depending on which rumor you believe) when the bulk of AOL layoffs are supposed to happen (rumors place the upcoming body count between 1,000-2,000 people).

My apologies to Alley Insider: LiveJournal forbids embedding of iframes; thanks to JavaScript hackers weeks ago, LJ’s own embedding format is still disabled except for video, so I can’t use the codes given on AI to embed the chart properly.

ETA: As soon as I wrote this post, I found a bigger copy of my chart, linked to right under the smaller copy. Since it’s my usual habit to link bigger images to smaller ones (but not to place the link to the bigger image underneath), I thought I’d lost the bigger version, which pretty much sums up what I would think.

Rondy is History

This is Anti-AOL, so I’ll be brutally honest: AOLers aren’t the only ones glad to see Rondy go. Me, too! Years ago I had this sudden flicker of hope for AOL’s future – even if its past was in rags – when Jon Miller took over.

In light of AOL’s “Just cancel the account” fiasco this was what Miller had to say (sort of): “The hell with paid access – let’s become an ad-driven thingy and give away everything – content, software, and email – for free.” He knew AOL’s inability to give people good customer service, timely cancellations, and a decent software suite was entirely intractable, so he chose to move AOL on to greener pastures. I was happy for his arrival and about as excited for him as I could be, considering I’m jaded from years of disliking AOL.

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History of AOL’s Layoffs, 1996-2007

This post is completely out-of-date and inaccurate, but I don’t plan on editing or deleting it. Instead, please see my fully updated AOL layoffs chart for 1996-2010.

Updated 12-31-07.

I have to hand it to Owen Thomas of Valleywag for pure, unbridled ambition: who else would attempt a chart of all the layoffs at AOL from Day One until another 2,000 people were laid off this October?

How about me? I think I’ve gotten closer to a full account of the carnage at AOL than Owen did. Give him credit, though; he was only off by 3,945 people and left out only a few years worth of layoffs. How much does Valleywag pay, anyway – not that I’m interested?

I’ve been wanting to redo Owen’s chart for three weeks but as a few of you know I wasn’t quite up to it. So with apologies for my belatedness, here’s the most complete chart of AOL layoffs I think anyone has come up with.

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An AOL Layoff List, Sorta

The secret is out

I’ve been asked by an anonymous commenter for a list of people laid off at AOL. I don’t have access to such a list but anyone who cares to send me one will have my eternal thankfulness, not to mention the thankfulness of everyone else on the Web who’s just as curious as I am.

What I’ve done in the meantime is collect posts and comments scattered across Silicon Alley Insider and other websites about who got laid off and and organize them for everyone else’s benefit.

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AOL layoff synopsis: the clueless fire the clues.

AOL is in a dreadful state of affairs with Randy Falco and Ron Grant (aka “Smithers & Burns”, a snarky insider reference to characters on The Simpsons) now running the show. I said last year that AOL was moving away from access into advertising, that Falco did not understand the Internet or any aspect of AOL’s business, and I always thought that tiny Ron Grant, (i.e. “Falco’s brain” or some such thing) was fairly clueless. I haven’t called it wrong yet, so love me or hate me, don’t say I never gave you a good (and early) warning.

Randy Falco: as always, without a clue. Image credit: bobzmudaguy@flickr.com

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