AOL

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Echoes of the Past

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Systems Administrator in Dulles, VA
Former Employee - Systems Administrator in Dulles, VA

I worked at AOL full-time (more than 5 years)

Pros

Still plenty of smart people working there.
Experience with Industry standard, open and proprietary software and hardware platforms in a large environment.
Pay was always above average although rarely excellent.

AOL has gone through a lot of changes, which I allude to in the "Con" section, but it also still had some possibilities left open when I left. Although contracting from it's greatest size down to a smaller and spun-off successor organization, leaving Time Warner behind can only be considered a plus at this point. There are definitely places that AOL is working to grow in, and honestly, if they make good decisions, like avoiding debacles like Bebo, they can still pull something off.

While I would never suggest someone who has never worked there apply for work there, I know enough people, and have enough experience there, that I might consider a position there again... assuming they can pull it together and get back some energy like they used to have.

Cons

AOL was clearly a company consumed by terrible past business decisions, and so it's outlook was always going to be rocky.

Starting at a time where the millionaires of the IPO and Time Warner merger were not just old stories, it's clear that the AOL I worked for was still a leader, but in it's current incarnation, well past it's prime. While I was never personally affected by layoffs, there was the constant threat of it hanging over the heads of everyone at the end of the year. Many good people were let go in masses at those times.

Note, I have not been at AOL for a while, and when I left, even the headquarters campus was being leased off from the original seven, crowded buildings when I started, down to just three, and the actual HQ for the company had moved to NYC, far from it's technical roots.

Unless you know that you are going to work on something extraordinary there, it's just a job, and it may well be a depressing one at that, considering that if you walk the corridors at CC2/CC1/HQ, you can tell that it used to be something special almost on the order of excitement of working at Google might be today.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

In AOL's current incarnation, I have little advice to offer management, as it has been years since I've been there. All I can say is that AOL needs to find a place in something new. Throw off the old big corporation mindset, and you've got a chance, otherwise, your days of being a leader are over permanently.

Tim Armstrong was a new CEO at the time I left, and at that time, he was trying to turn things around. My impressions at the time of him were a little positive, but not particularly well formed. Past management, however, was ridiculously bad, particularly at the top. A smaller company would have been years dead with those guys in charge if AOL hadn't managed to get so big before they got their hands on the company.

Doesn't Recommend
Neutral Outlook
No opinion of CEO

679 Other Employee Reviews for AOL (View Most Recent)

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  1.  

    Roll of the Dice

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Beverly Hills, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Beverly Hills, CA

    I worked at AOL full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Good paying, swank office (Beverly Hills), fun place, covered underground parking, clean restrooms, top of the line equipment, free food, free BEER (yes, you read that right) and free bicycles to ride around the neighborhood on for lunch or dinner

    Cons

    So the all of the above sounds great, right? Well, trouble in paradise hits when you have constant lack of job security! AOL is kind of a dysfunctional company, constantly trying to re-invent itself. Currently it's under the dominion of Arianna Huffington, who, on a whim, decided she didn't need my branch of the AOL government anymore! And it doesn't help when your left kind of directionless, which is due to poor communication from management. Although the flip-side to that coin might be ok if you don't like someone hovering over your shoulder all the time...

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Talk to people underneath you more often and it won't be so awkward when you check in on them every three weeks!

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    Great Memories and Friends Made

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - General Manager in Dulles, VA
    Former Employee - General Manager in Dulles, VA

    I worked at AOL full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    AOL was in the middle of the Internet boom and so it was a very exciting time to work there. Many VERY smart people chasing disruptive business models and some people (the earlier hires) became very wealthy.

    Cons

    The culture could be poisonous and, likely due to the possibility of quick riches, attracted people with questionable ethical standards, and some of these people moved up quickly. There was also the tendency to make rash business decisions without really evaluating the market/data, and as a result hundreds of millions of dollars we're blown in the pursuit of really poorly thought-out initiatives.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The pursuit of some type of journalistic, media business model has proven itself to be folly over and over again. Watching a market cap go from +100BN to <2BN should be a clear indication that nobody believes the margins or growth prospects of this model are attractive. There needs to be a refocus on product vs editorial before it's too late.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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