Reinvention of AOL means fewer Virginia jobs

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by Heather B. Hayes

The bad news from Internet pioneer AOL was greeted, appropriately enough, with a flurry of e-mails to media Web sites. “We saw it coming,” was the consensus view.

Less than a month after AOL said it was moving its headquarters from Dulles to New York, the company announced that it is laying off 2,000 of its 10,000 employees. The job cuts affect 750 employees in Northern Virginia, about 19 percent of its work force in the region.

The explanation for the layoffs was the same one given for the headquarters transfer: AOL is converting from a subscription-based Internet service to an advertising-supported Web company.

Oddly, AOL CEO Randy Falco, informed his employees of the layoffs in the 10th paragraph of a lengthy e-mail offering “an update on where we are in this transition.”
AOL helped cement Northern Virginia’s reputation as a high-tech center in the 1990s, but its shrinking presence is not expected to damage that image. “We have so many big technology companies here now,” says Eileen Curtis, president and CEO of the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce. Like AOL, the region has moved on.

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