Sunday, September 02, 2007

Andy and I Agree on EarthLink

Andy @ VOIP Watch has a post about EarthLink that mirrors my own thoughts. Since Gary Betty's death, the company has been sliding. There was probably no succession path and Sky Dayton has his hands full with the leaking bucket that he calls Helio. The silos at ELN - DSL, cable, dial-up, and muni - are all vying to meet numbers, even at the expense of another silo. (See the blunder in Alexandria where days after announcing that ELN would run the muni network, ELN direct mailed the city for DSL). No one knows what is going on over there.

And bringing in Hoff was a sure signal that it was time to sell. He showed up carrying the for sale sign, I think.

What's working? Certainly none of the execs, because all sub numbers are flat or decreasing. Nothing innovative either. All those properties and no bundling or cross-selling or anything that can be misconstrued as an original idea.

Muni Wireless was going to be expensive, but from things I have heard it was such a naive cluster that everything ended up costing triple. Even the marketing, which was their forte is off. Muni WiFi should have been about "take your broadband with you" and "it goes where you go", not let's try to undercut DSL and cable. Certainly, the VoIP over WiFI push was foolish when your vendor, Tropos, was telling you that wi-fi can't handle VoIP well. And videoconferencing via the Nokia was unique, but mesh is not really designed for 384k packet streams in real time either.

I don't understand how the Muni play wasn't an add-on to their dial-up and broadband base. Or how Helio and Muni weren't bundled. Or Helio and New Edge. Maybe bundles like that would have disrupted internal politics, but I guess that won't be an issue now that half the staff is gone and Huff brought in his buddy to run things as COO.

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