Optus slashes staff at Excite@Home

Optus has begun paring down operations at Excite@Home, with almost half of the operation's staff being shown the door last Friday.

Around 40 of Excite@Home's 100 staff were laid off as Optus began the process of integrating the now wholly-owned broadband venture into its operations.

An Optus spokesman said that although the 'walled garden' content offering of Excite@Home would remain, it would not be a priority as Optus switches to making its broadband service the primary focus.

The joint venture between Optus and Excite@Home lasted a mere 18 months before Optus bought out its partner's share on September 18. Sources close to the deal revealed that Optus entered into negotiations with Excite@Home after the US-based company said that it would no longer be able to support Australian operations.

Current events are a long way from where Chris Chapman, former CEO of Excite@Home, saw the company headed earlier this year. Launching an aggressive brand campaign in March and with a goal of boosting sales revenues by 70 per cent this year, Chapman was enthusiastic about the future of the company.

"This is the year that will sort out the survivors in the dotcom industry. Excite@Home is moving fast despite speculation of the slowdown being experienced by the online advertising industry," he said at that time.

Meanwhile, in the US, AT&T Corp is set to purchase the broadband Internet access business and services assets of Excite@Home, which filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code last week.

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