AltaVista's unmetered internet access debacle has finally taken its toll on the company's UK managing director, who resigned today.
The company admitted the mistakes made in the embarrassing failure of its unmetered service meant managing director Andy Mitchell's resignation was "inevitable".
Mitchell's troubles began in March when the company became the first internet service provider to unveil plans to offer UK consumers unmetered access for a flat fee. The service was finally officially launched three months later, although it was more expensive than expected.
At the start of this month, speculation grew that the service had failed to launch. The company declined to comment and said the only person authorised to speak on the matter was Mitchell, who was on holiday for two weeks and apparently unable to be contacted.
On his return, the company had to admit its service had never started and said it had been put "on hold". Evan Lovener, head of distribution at AltaVista UK, told vnunet.com last week: "We hold our hands up and admit we have not been communicative."
Mitchell posted a message to AltaVista users on the company's website apologising for his errors. "I have made mistakes throughout this episode, especially in terms of my poor communication with you, and I apologise for any confusion or inconvenience," he said.
AltaVista president Pierre Paperon said today: "Over the past seven months, Andy Mitchell built our UK business almost from scratch. We are very grateful for all he has done to grow an excellent UK search engine and a strong organisation."
"The mistakes in our planned internet access service - which we do acknowledge - probably made Andy's departure inevitable, and we support his decision," he added.
AltaVista will appoint Stephanie Himoff, head of business development, as acting managing director to guide the company through "its current difficulties to a position of true internet search leadership".
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