Part of the EarthLink headquarters in Atlanta.
|Traded as||NASDAQ: WIN|
|Industry||Managed network and cloud services provider, and ISP|
|Founders||Sky Dayton, Reed Slatkin|
|Headquarters||Little Rock, Arkansas|
Anthony W. Thomas (CEO)
|Products||Full suite of managed network, plus Consumer ISP|
|Revenue||US$1.2 billion (2013)|
Number of employees
|Website||EarthLink Business, EarthLink.net|
EarthLink is an IT services, network and communications provider headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The company serves more than 150,000 businesses and 1 million U.S. consumers. On November 7, 2016, Windstream Holdings announced a merger with Earthlink for about $1.1 billion in stock. The combined company, which will retain the Windstream name, will be headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, Feb. 27 2017 Windstream (WIN) Completes merger with EarthLink (ELNK).
EarthLink was formed in 1994. As of November 2016, it was promoting two service groups: Residential Solutions and Business Solutions.
Business Solutions sells communications, IT and virtualization, cloud computing, IT security, colocation, hosted applications and support services. The company owns and operates a U.S. network including 29,421 route miles of fiber, 90 metro fiber rings, and eight data centers. The group reports having more than 150,000 customers.
EarthLink's Residential Solutions sell broadband (DSL/freestanding DSL, cable internet, 4G Internet, Satellite Internet), dial-up Internet, Web hosting and commerce, and related services. It also sells spamBlocker, Anti-virus and Online Back-up. Earthlink Internet services claim over 1 million customers.
EarthLink was co-founded in March 1994 by Sky Dayton, investor Reed Slatkin and Kevin M. O'Donnell. Dayton, then only age 23, reportedly was inspired to start the dial-up Internet service provider (ISP) in Pasadena, CA after spending an entire week trying to configure his own computer for Internet access. Dayton’s experience convinced him that there was a market for a simple, user-friendly ISP.
Co-founder Kevin M. O'Donnell helped raise capital for the venture and urged a number of significant old friends from his government technology days to join the Board. He recruited numerous Vice Presidents for the company, and brought in the first major round of funding, from Greg B. Abbott, a successful entrepreneur and former CEO of Ithaca Industries. He also hired CEO Garry Betty.
By 1995, EarthLink offered dial-up service in 98 cities, and was one of the first U.S. ISPs to offer unlimited Internet access for a flat rate.
Initial public offering
EarthLink went public on NASDAQ in January 1997. Later that year, the company began to provide 56K dial-up access, doubling the speed of its dial-up service. EarthLink also teamed up with Charter Communications to offer high-speed cable Internet access.
MindSpring merger and other acquisitions
On February 4, 2000, the company, then based in Pasadena, California, merged with Atlanta-founded MindSpring, making it the second-largest ISP in the U.S., after AOL. Later that year, the company launched EarthLink Biz DSL service. EarthLink also acquired OneMain.com, a large, rural ISP, and Rural Connections in 2001.
On June 10, 2002, EarthLink acquired PeoplePC, a low-priced dial-up ISP.
EarthLink launched a VoIP phone service for broadband users called Unlimited Voice in April 2003. The company also released several free tools for its members to block spam, viruses, and spyware.
At the start of 2005, EarthLink and SK Telecom, the largest mobile phone company in South Korea, announced a new joint venture called SK-EarthLink, later renamed Helio mobile phone company. Helio, a new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), targeted young, tech-savvy consumers with advanced wireless devices and services common in Korea but not the U.S. Helio launched a total of 7 phones (Kickflip, Hero, Drift, Heat, Ocean, Fin and Mysto) and had 170,000 subscribers before it was sold to Virgin Mobile USA in June 2008.
In July 2005, EarthLink closed its in-house call centers to reduce costs.
In August 2005, Earthlink acquired Aluria Software, LLC-a seller of Anti-Spyware software, based in Lake Mary, Florida.
In October 2005, Philadelphia, PA, and Anaheim, CA, selected EarthLink to build their municipal Wi-Fi networks. EarthLink's Municipal Networks division would launch public wi-fi networks in Anaheim, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Milpitas, CA, and win several more municipal contracts before EarthLink decided to exit the muni wi-fi business by the end of 2007.
EarthLink launched two new voice services between late 2005 and early 2006: a VoIP service called EarthLink trueVoice and a high-speed Internet and voice bundle called EarthLink DSL & Home Phone Service.
In April 2006, EarthLink acquired New Edge Networks, a provider of network and communication services for businesses. In June, the EarthLink’s Municipal Networks division launched the company’s first citywide Wi-Fi network in Anaheim, CA.
In September 2014, the company partnered with Tech Data to provide a Desktop as a Service cloud offering.
New business acquisitions
In March 2011 EarthLink also acquired STS Telecom, a privately held business in Florida and Georgia. STS Telecom was integrated into the new EarthLink Business division, along with the recently acquired One Communications and Deltacom, New Edge Networks, and EarthLink’s legacy Business Solutions.
In May 2011 the company created a new EarthLink Carrier division for wholesale customers with fiber-based transport, voice and data service, and switched services.
Also in May, EarthLink acquired LogicalSolutions.net, an enterprise data center solution and cloud services provider.
EarthLink also purchased IT Solution Center and cloud-based application business from Synergy Global Solutions in 2011.
In July 2013, EarthLink acquired CenterBeam, Inc., a provider of remote managed IT services—with an IT Support Center providing help desk, desktop technical support and application support services.
Business network and data center expansion
In July 2013, EarthLink completed its previously announced plans to open four new data centers in San Jose, Chicago, Dallas and Miami on its next-generation cloud platform. This brought its total to eight.
In March, 2017, EarthLink was acquired by Windstream Holdings, Inc., in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $1.1 billion, including debt.
Under the terms of the agreement, EarthLink shareholders will receive 0.818 shares of Windstream common stock for each EarthLink share owned. 
On November 21, 2006, EarthLink reported that its CEO, Garry Betty, was diagnosed with a serious form of cancer which would have required him to take an undetermined leave of absence. The company's Board of Directors named Mike Lunsford, Vice-President of Voice and Access, as interim CEO. Betty died on January 2, 2007. On June 25, 2007, EarthLink named Rolla Huff its President and CEO. On January 29, 2008, EarthLink announced that Rolla Huff would replace Robert Kavner as Chairman of the Board. In January 2014, Joseph F. Eazor replaced Rolla Huff as President and CEO.
Awards and recognition
- In October 1996, EarthLink was named "Internet Company of the Year" by the Southern California Software Industry Council.
- In 2000, the company won PC World's World Class Award for Best ISP.
- In 2002, the company was named Top ISP by CNet for the 3rd consecutive year and received a 5-star rating from Smart Business. Also in 2002, J.D. Power and Associates ranked EarthLink Dial-Up Highest in Customer Satisfaction. EarthLink High-Speed tied for the Highest in Customer Satisfaction ranking.
- In August 2003, J.D. Power and Associates ranked EarthLink High Speed Highest in Customer Satisfaction for the second consecutive year.
- In September 2004, J.D. Power and Associates ranked both EarthLink Dial-Up and EarthLink High Speed Highest in Customer Satisfaction. EarthLink Dial-Up also received the PC Magazine Readers' Choice Award for the second year in a row.
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