June 26, 2007 9:46 AM PDT

EarthLink gets a new CEO

Internet service provider EarthLink named a new president and chief executive Monday.

Rolla Huff, 50, succeeds former CEO Garry Betty, who died in January from complications with cancer. Betty was 49. Michael Lunsford has been interim CEO, and he will continue to serve on the company's executive team, Earthlink officials said.

Huff takes the top job at EarthLink as the company comes under pressure in its municipal Wi-Fi business and for its huge investment in mobile virtual network operator Helio.

Rolla P. Huff Rolla P. Huff

EarthLink said in April that it would cut spending for expanding municipal Wi-Fi and instead refocus its strategy to build out networks in cities where it already has contracts. The ISP has won Wi-Fi contracts in 13 cities, including San Francisco, Philadelphia and Anaheim, Calif. Executives said the company would consider taking on new contracts only in larger cities such as Chicago or Los Angeles, where, presumably, the chances of turning a profit are higher.

EarthLink's decision to scale back expansion of its muni Wi-Fi projects came just as the company announced a loss of about $30 million, mostly from costs associated with its investment in the cell phone company Helio.

EarthLink jointly owns Helio with SK Telecom of South Korea. Each company has already committed to invest $220 million in the company. And EarthLink said it might spend another $50 million on the joint venture.

Huff, who has been known to cut loose unprofitable businesses, could be just what EarthLink needs as it tries to control costs and expand its business.

"Rolla is a proven leader who has delivered results for customers, employees and shareholders over two decades," Sky Dayton, founder of EarthLink and CEO of Helio, said in a statement. "I think he is the perfect CEO to have at the helm during this very important time in EarthLink's history."

From 1999 to 2006, Huff served as the chairman and chief executive of Mpower Communications, which offers voice and data services to business and consumer markets. He also served as president and chief operating officer, and earlier as chief financial officer, of Frontier, until its acquisition in 1999 by Qwest Communications International. Huff has also worked for a number of other communications companies and at one point served as chief financial officer of AT&T Wireless.

Huff also said he has purchased 100,000 shares of EarthLink stock at a cost of roughly $750,000 to show his confidence in and support of the company.

"EarthLink is one of the Internet's great brands, with millions of loyal subscribers, more than a billion dollars in annual customer revenue, a core business that generates substantial free cash flow, a strong balance sheet, and a great team of people dedicated to superior customer service," he said in a statement. "I believe EarthLink has the elements to create substantial shareholder value."

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Earthlink's CEO
I wonder why it is so hard to find a contact email for the CEO's of companies.

I have been using Earthlink for my internet connection,etc., for several years.

I would like to be able to suggest that these companies consider the vision impaired/blind.

If I have a tech problem, or even just need an answer to a question, it's like trying to get in to see the President!!

And don't even let me start with the "AUTOMATED CALLING TECHNOLOGY" of today - it's enough to make a saint cuss!!!!
Posted by classycat (1 comment )
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I've been without DSL for 4 days. All I get is the usual "Be assured it will be fixed" from Kevin and Kennedy (who knew these were really Indian names-like from India?). I tried cancelling my account, and wqas hund up on...if ayone at Earthlink needs copies of the chat rooms dialogs, my technical Ticket number which is still open with no answers 1232731 (the old one 1222218 was opened for the wrong account number and nothing was done there either), or any more feedback, please email me back. I also sent emails to ceo@earthlink.net but Rolla is not responding either. So I have no DSL, I cannot cancel my account (remember Marco in India hung up on me) and I cannot reach anyone in Atlanta where the HQ is and by pure coincidence is where I live, much less the CEO himself...oooh, did I forget o say I'm still paying for this... EARTHLINK = 2 thumbs down, worse than AT&T and Comcast put together. And to think that I've been there for 5 years and left Bellosuth for them...what was I thinking?
Posted by Mallak44 (1 comment )
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I have been without Earth link DSL for over a year now and I had called in to cancel their serveice and was told they would give me a free month and like a fool I did. It was my understanding I could unsubscribe any time. Problem was you have to cancel before 30 days or pay a huge penalty I should have paid the penalty as I ended up paying for a year and two months. I asked for last months payment back and was told they could not do that THEY MUST REALY NEED THE MONEY BAD I was able to cancel to day I hope
Posted by papadarl (1 comment )
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Earth Finks is the absolute worst company I have ever encountered. They'll go out of business within 2 years. I was supposed to switch to them from AT&T but their technician stupidly called them to cancel my number. Since that time, I have not been able to get a dial tone in my house. I told the person I was working with after two weeks of no phone that I was cancellng the order. But Earth Fink took out $97.22 and won't give it back. I emailed their billing department over and over about the mistake, supplied emails showing I never got a dial tone .... and those morons don't answer. So now I have to fill out a form for Consumer Affairs to get my money back. What a sorry ass company this is. Don't sign up with them for nothing, not even for free. They are scammers.
Posted by Donrmcm (1 comment )
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My account number is 00000000. You have been billing my account for dial-up ever since I cancelled it in October of 2007. I switched it over to a cable account and I kept earthlink, the cable company. makes a payment to you each month. I was forced to block earthlinks access to my bank because of the continued billing for a service I no longer receive (Dial-Up). Now I'm getting " PAPER '' bills because you can't tap my bank account. Must I cancel earthlink completely to make you wake up and change your billing practices? Be informed that if I am put into collections for this bogus bill or if my service is interrupted at any time you will find yourself in small claims court. This problem has been going on for close to 1 year and I have made well over 30 calls that have used a considerable amount of MY VALUABLE TIME. This issue has also been a problem because of the difficulty you have caused with my bank. Be advised that if this issue is not addressed immediately, I will pursue other alternatives including , but not limited to; posting my experience with earthlink on the internet, legal action, negative advertising on my vehicles, telling anyone who will listen about how bad your company is, contacting local media, T.V. and Newspapers for help in resolving this issue.

Posted by BrianFS (1 comment )
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Yeah we are seeing this new CEO's vision for earthlink, just look at all the customer complaints! Already in 2008 the Atlanta Better Buisness Bureau has logged more than 728 complaints against earthlink. I will be ending my earthlnk account since today I got a call from a credit bureau claiming I owe earthlink $41 for shipping and handling of a brochure package they sent to me unbelievible! So now I will be going with the cable company instead. This little venture to defraud me could cost earthlink, according to my attorney in the thousands of dollars of not only attorney fees but any damage caused to my credit they will have to pay for, since this is a fraud case. My friends 1 1/2 years ago I told them earthlink would be their best bet for dial up, well another case of fraud. After 4 months earthstink started charging them $11 dollars more than they should have been. Then to ease the problem earthlink offered them 20 dollars for the $120.00 they stole from them. If you get earthstink after reading all the complaints online about them then don't complain you got screwed. None of this started happening til this new CEO showed up so I suggest that you contact your attorney generals offices in your state and file a fraud charge.
Posted by stormtiger123 (1 comment )
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Ok, so the story begins as "mindsprings", has anyone been with you that long?? I have been with you since "97". I have never been treated so poorly as I have been in the last 3 months. I was cancelled by your company in June 08 because my computer was no longer compatible to your server. On June 19th I called to make sure I didn't need to do anything further, your personel said the account had been cancalled. I asked them again if I needed to do anything else. "No ma'm." So, now in October, I am still getting charged to my credit card the monthly fee of $26.85. I call, and like all the other people I see frustrated on this web-site, get the RUN AROUND. Let's see, Sahid, John, Alvin, and Pricilla are among the people I have spoken to at your "help", some help line. My service with you was cancalled by you, I returned the call on June 19th, have had no service since then, but you feel it is right to continue to charge me because your inadequate staff did'nt deactivate my account?? This 3 months of service needs to be refunded to me. Just think what is happening to all the other greedy, crooked, swinish companies and there staff and CEO's. You need to do the right thing!
Posted by cjdean (1 comment )
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In my opinion, Earth is a criminal enterprise. Stay as far away from Earthlink as possible. To date, I've filed complaints with the BBB and the NY State Att. General. I'd file a complaint with the Georgia State Att. General if I could do it on-line. My plans are to research the possibility of extortion charges against this company.

I won't go in to detail about my problem with Earthlink - just google "earthlink" +"complaints" to get an inkling, but I've saved the best part for last ...

Are you sitting down?

The BBB gives Earthlink an A+ rating.

That's right. It raises serious questions about the integrity of the Better Business Bureau, wouldn't you agree? I suggested to the BBB that they read their own report about this company.
Posted by cachito1 (1 comment )
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I joined Mindspring in 1990 and have maintained the account ever since. The irony is that Mindspring had the BEST technical customer service of any company I have ever dealt with, before or since. Their techs were friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, and always resolved the issue on the first call. With Earthlink, all you get are offshore reps readng from a scripts and apologizing over and over that "you are having trouble". They have no ability or knowledge to solve a problem. They just keep politely apologizing until you give up and hang up. Then they send the survey to see how they did. Earthlink has taken the best service to the worst by moving tech support to India. I'd gladly pay more for a company with better tech support but everyone seems to be making the same mistakes! Is there anyone at EL who listens?
Posted by 3DPhoto (6 comments )
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