Whole Earth dumps president

The ISP's board terminates president David Holub after a dispute with UUNet over interconnection fees.

Jeff Pelline Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jeff Pelline is editor of CNET News.com. Jeff promises to buy a Toyota Prius once hybrid cars are allowed in the carpool lane with solo drivers.
Jeff Pelline
2 min read
Whole Earth Networks president David Holub said today that he was terminated by the company's board, a move that came in the wake of a dispute with UUNet Technologies over interconnection fees.

One source said the board has named Kevin Randolph, an engineer and marketing executive with technology experience at Bank of America and US West, as Holub's acting successor. Randolph could not be reached for comment.

Bruce Katz remains chairman of the board of Whole Earth Networks.

"I was terminated by the board, it would appear, for having taken a strong stance with regard to negotiating the interconnection agreement with UUNet," Holub said.

Holub, 36, said he was handed a termination letter in an offsite meeting this week and told to leave without collecting his belongings. He said no reason was given for the termination.

The news upset many employees and others in the Internet industry. Holub is founder of Hooked.net, an ISP that went online in 1994. Whole Earth Networks has its origins in Hooked.net and in The WELL, one of the Net's first communities, dating back to 1985.

Rosewood Stone Group, a venture capital firm based in Sausalito, California, and a major stakeholder in Whole Earth Networks, declined comment today.

On Monday, Whole Earth Networks and UUNet said they agreed to continue the interconnection of their networks, ending a dispute over Net connection fees, at least temporarily.

A group of more than a dozen Internet service providers, including Whole Earth Networks, has fought a UUNet proposal to charge them fees or terminate agreements that help connect them to the Net. It is unclear what effect the Whole Earth settlement will have on other ISPs.

UUNet argues that the cutoff, planned for this summer, is justified to help pay costs for supplying a Net backbone. But ISPs fear that the move might force them to pass along the costs to customers or go out of business.

A memo sent to another ISP from UUNet last month read: "As a result of a recent operational audit, UUNet has determined to reduce the number of its peering relationships. Accordingly, UUNet intends to stop peering with you at MAE-West, an Internet hub. We realize this may cause some modification to your network plans and would like to cease peering 90 days from now, or June 3, 1997. We'd like to work with you to make this transition as smooth as possible."

UUNet would not comment on the matter. But one ISP executive said he heard that the peering would be limited to as few as six large ISPs over the long term: MCI, Sprint, BBN, PSINet, ANS, and Netcom.