Less than six months after putting
a price on free Internet service, the self-styled “Defenders of the
Free World” announced Wednesday night more restrictions on its service and
laid off 66 employees.
NetZero, Inc., a highly-popular free Internet service provider (ISP) with
more than 3.4 million active users, dropped its monthly cap from 40 hours
of free Internet use down to 10 hours and reduced its coverage area in
rural and underserved areas to cut down on POP server costs.
Also announced was its decision to sell off RocketCash, its online payment
company that took orders for its NetZero Platinum service. With the
company went 27 employees to the undisclosed new owners.
Mark Goldston, NetZero chairman, president and chief executive officer,
said the move, while unfortunate, was necessary to both increase quality of
service and please shareholders.
“The current dynamics of the online advertising market require that we
reduce our reliance on advertising revenues,” Goldston said. “The decision
to re-size our employee base was extremely difficult. However, these
actions are necessary steps that will enable us to streamline our
operations and sharpen our focus on our core Internet access business.”