Excite@Home collapse: Layoffs commence

As part of a planned shutdown, the troubled broadband Net access provider cuts 400 employees. Meanwhile, business customers scramble to replace @Work access.

CNET News staff
4 min read


End of the line for Excite@Home

By CNET News.com Staff
December 14, 2001, 1:00 p.m. PT

The high-speed Net access company starts laying off workers as part of its plan to wind down operations and close on Feb. 28. Excite@Home is still in the middle of a fierce battle between bondholders and cable partners, as both sides seek to grab as much as they can from the ashes of the once-leading cable Net access provider.

Latest developments

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collapse of Excite@Home Excite@Home slashes 400 jobs
The company says the cuts are "in line with the company's intention to conserve cash and to work to return value to its financial stakeholders."

Murky future for Excite@Work customers
The likely shutdown or sale of the business department forces thousands of small-business customers to shift their service to a new carrier or take their chances with a new owner.

Lesson learned: Own the pipes
Unfortunately for investors and jilted customers wondering what happened, an autopsy reveals that the signs of distress should have been obvious even during the boom times.

Judge OKs cable partner contracts
Under the agreements with Cox, Comcast and other cable companies, Excite@Home will receive $355 million to maintain the service through February.

E-mail problems dog customers
Complaints include failure to get messages, inaccessible e-mail and too much time spent manually updating sites with new addresses.

see related story: Should Net access be regulated? CEOs: Glass always half full
Read the optimistic words of top Excite@Home executives as the company rose to a market value of about $20 billion and then crumbled.

Cable companies say no sweat
Excite@Home, the world's largest high-speed Internet network, misjudged the ease with which its cable partners could replicate its network.

Excite@Home to shut down; AT&T drops bid
The Net access provider announces that it will cease operations in February 2002, after AT&T withdraws its withdraws its $307 million offer.

Bondholders: We want to sue
A group of institutional bondholders plans to sue AT&T for withdrawing its bid for the assets of the withering high-speed Internet provider.

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Excite@Home's rise and fall
Melissa Francis, correspondent, CNET

Will DSL reap rewards?
As thousands are stranded without a connection in the wake of Excite@Home's shutdown, rival DSL providers rush in with special offers.

What to do if you are unplugged
FAQ What should you do if you are an Excite@Home subscriber? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the broadband crisis.

Previous coverage

Blunders aplenty in broadband talks
Excite@Home's creditors engaged in a high-stakes game of chicken with AT&T and lost, largely because they had underestimated Ma Bell's resolve.

AT&T customers first to fall
At least one cable partner has terminated high-speed access to its customers after a court ruling that threatened to shut down the service entirely.

$307 million deal--not good enough
Excite@Home bondholders oppose the sale of broadband assets to AT&T, a move aimed at putting some teeth into demands for a higher price.

Excite@Home files for bankruptcy
The leading broadband ISP says it will seek Chapter 11 protection and sell its high-speed network to AT&T for $307 million in cash.

Was the @Home merger doomed?
special report Sources say the marriage of the Web portal and high-speed Net service fell short of expectations largely because of management blunders.

Though former Net highflier Excite@Home has been unraveling for more than a year, the company's demise has accelerated in the past few weeks.

Sept. 28  Excite@Home files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and says AT&T has agreed to buy the company's assets for $307 million.
Read the story.

Oct. 5  CNET News.com reports that a group of Excite@Home creditors may try to scuttle AT&T's purchase of the company, saying the price is too low.
Read the story.

Oct. 10  Citing a need to conserve cash, Excite@Home begins turning away new customers.
Read the story.

Oct. 19  Excite@Home bondholders formally oppose the sale of the company to AT&T.
Read the story.

Oct. 23  A group of shareholders, led by one of Excite@Home's early employees, says it seeks to undo AT&T's purchase.
Read the story.

Oct. 24  Saying it wants to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, AT&T removes four executives from Excite@Home's board of directors. Read the story.

The bankruptcy judge says creditor concerns would make it "very hard to approve the (sale) process."
Read the story.

Nov. 9  Two years after paying $7.8 billion in cash and stock for Excite.com, Excite@Home agrees to sell the money-losing Web portal for a mere $10 million.
Read the story.

Nov. 30  At the urging of bondholders, a federal bankruptcy court judge rules that Excite@Home can cancel contracts with its cable partners and seek more revenue through new contracts.
Read the story.

Dec. 1  AT&T and Excite@Home fail to agree on a new contract, prompting Excite@Home to unplug service and forcing AT&T to switch more than 800,000 customers to its own network.
Read the story.

Dec. 3  Comcast Cable Communications and Cox Communications agree to pay $160 million each to Excite@Home for three months of high-speed Internet service. Rogers Cable also reaches a "transitional agreement" with Excite@Home.
Read the story.

CNET News.com reports that AT&T has decided not to purchase the assets of Excite@Home.
Read the story.

Dec. 4  CNET News.com reports that Excite@Home bondholders plan to file suit against AT&T for pulling its offer to purchase the company.
Read the story.

Excite@Home announces it will close its doors Feb. 28.
Read the story.