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.

Work for AOL? Please read this.

I had a hard time finding out what happened to Laura Peterson. As a few readers might recall from a deleted post on Anti-AOL last week, she was the AOL Product Manager who wanted me to let my readers know she was offering help to those of you with questions about using AOL.

I was happy to hear from her since I get a lot of those questions myself and would love to defer them to someone else (since I don’t really know how to answer them) so I wrote a post on Anti-AOL (since deleted) that let AOL users know about her and Lee Givens, who wants to help people use AOL on Mac.

Three or four days later I got my first hint that something was wrong when a long-time reader and friend of mine left a comment asking me if Ms. Peterson had been fired. Not knowing what he was talking about, I reproached him for his comment (because even if I had known what he was talking about, I think it would have been more polite to address his question to her, not me).

I got my first hint that at least it was an honest question when I looked Ms. Peterson’s blog over last week and saw the most recent post was Goodbye! Whoops. What was going on here?

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AOL’s Top 5 Blunders of 2007

AOL's top 5 blunders of 2007

For the average person surfing the Web, AOL didn’t stand out for a lot of well-publicized blunders this year, in stark contrast to their inability to stay out of the press last year for fiascos that would embarrass any company with a moral compass, much less a company that once was the Internet. All the same, AOL’s blunders this year were surprising for how clearly they showed AOL’s lack of integrity, dignity, and direction. Unlike last year I had no problem deciding how to order this list, so no coin-flipping this time…

AOL leaks layoff news, handles layoffs by email, and mocks laid off AOLers.

Say what you want about AOL’s inability to catch up to the Internet these days, they sure can blow the playing field wide open for how layoffs are handled. How about employing managers who are so burnt up over how badly AOL treats them that they willingly leak details of the who, what, when and why of October’s layoffs to Silicon Valley Insider, making a previously shamed Henry Blodget of former stock analysis fame once more well-known and well-liked among industry insiders of all stripes?

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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 “Boxes Rumor” Posted by Ex-AOL Employee

While I was at work today Silicon Alley Insider reported that Valleywag uncovered a rumor on a Tumblr that there’s stacks of boxes ready and waiting in an employee parking garage so that soon-to-be laid off AOLers don’t have to carry their belongings out in their arms. The Tumblr includes a picture of the boxes. The picture is said to show boxes stacked approximately 10 to every 4 inches, which works out to at least 2,350 visible boxes. Have a peek now if you haven’t already.

AOL boxing up? Credit: marc.redtilde.com

Assuming one box per AOL employee, the layoffs will be horrendous.

People question the truthfulness of the rumor, said to be given to Marc, the blogger, by an “anon AOL employee.” I can’t vouch for the truthfulness of it myself. But I can vouch for the fact that the Tumblr is written by a high level ex-AOL employee who’s probably playing coy about how much he knows.

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Got juicy stuff on the AOL layoffs? Send me tips.

Shed some light for me. Or don't.

I’m not the only blogger on the Web who’s noticed a strange influx of people storming our sites looking for news about upcoming AOL layoffs. While the tutorial section of my site is still the heavyweight here, the aol layoffs tag is getting so many hits it’s becoming another contender for the top spot.

But I don’t know much more besides what I’ve written so far. If you’ve got juicy stuff on the AOL layoffs, send me some tips.

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AOL Headquarters to Move Above NYC KMart

AOL's New Home

I’m heartened to learn AOL is moving their headquarters next spring from Dulles Virginia, where they’ve been situated since 1985, to NY City, since I won’t be there.

The new location is a place I missed working at by just a hair some years ago: 770 Broadway, a floor above a company I almost transferred to about 12 years ago. I lived on Long Island at the time surrounded by farms and fields, and I liked the scenery, so I turned the move down, and wound up leaving New York, anyway. Now if I move back I know where not to uh…shop.

AOL’s air-brained Randy Falco claims moving to NY will send:

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Tough Questions, and a Question of Fair Use

Uneasy Questions

As reported in Silicon Alley Insider this week, Richard Greenfield, Managing Director of media investments for Pali Research, a fairly new addition to the brokerage firm Pali Capital, has some tough questions for Time Warner, making SAI writer Peter Kafka remark that “for understandable reasons, [they] are presumably no longer speaking to him”.

His toughest questions are for AOL, but his blog requires that you sign up with a corporate email address to read them. After I complained about it on the SAI blog, the requirement for a corporate email address was temporarily lifted, allowing me to create an account and copy Mr. Greenfield’s post for my personal records, but according to my email with him today, the corporate email address requirement is again in effect.

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Netscape Will Revert Back to a Portal

Roll the dice on life without AOL

When Jason Calacanis (former GM of Netscape who morphed it into a social news site last summer) quit AOL, I wrote about how I hoped that in his wake AOL would change Netscape back into what it was: a halfway decent (if low-brow) portal. Breaking news announces that they’ll finally do just that next week. From the AP article (9-22-2207: it’s now deleted):

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Please God, Just One More Bad Year

Say a prayer

Time to watch the ship start sinking; AOL can’t bail out much longer. Breaking news at the Washington Post quotes Rob Enderle, a principal analyst for the Enderle Group, saying that unless AOL becomes more competitive, “this property will be without value by this time next year.”

AOL had its worst quarter since changing its business model last summer to regain money lost from over 14 million fleeing subscribers. Giving away free access to AOL’s software and premium content while attaching ads to member’s inboxes and emails was supposed to staunch the painful flow of lost dollars. For a while the ad-based model seemed to have some hope. AOL claimed profits rose around 40% for each subsequent quarter, but profit rose just 16% last quarter, and past examination proves most of the increase was from advertising.com, an AOL subsidiary that places ads on third-party websites, not on AOL’s.

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