RIP AIM: AOL retires its pioneering Instant Messenger app

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 10:59 AM
Updated: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 10:59 AM



Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

It’s the end of an era. As of Friday, web company AOL’s groundbreaking Instant Messenger program is no more.

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Oath, the entity formed by AOL combined with Yahoo, announced in October that it would retire AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) on Dec. 15.

As of Friday, users were no longer be able to sign into AIM. Officials with Oath said in October that data associated with the app will be deleted and warned that users would have to save their images, files and chat history before Dec. 15, if they hoped to keep it.

People who have email addresses under the aim.com domain name will still be able to access email as usual, according to Oath.

AIM was the first chat application of its kind when it launched in 1997.

“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” said Michael Albers, vice president of communications products at Oath. “As a result we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM effective December 15, 2017.”

Company officials said in an FAQ about the change that no replacement app is in the works.

“Thank you to all of our AIM users,” Albers said. “We are more excited than ever to continue building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products for users around the world.”

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BB&T recovering after 'technical issue' left customers without access to accounts, cash

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 9:52 AM
Updated: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 11:40 AM

BB&T Outage Leaves Customers Without Access to Their Accounts, Cash

Millions of BB&T customers were locked out of their accounts Thursday night and Friday morning due to an outage that bank officials said was caused by a "technical issue."

The interruption of services was first reported Thursday night and appeared to last until just before noon Friday.

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“At this time, many of our services are unavailable, including digital banking, Phone24, and ATM. Thank you for your patience as we work diligently to restore your services. We will continue to provide updates here and on http://BBT.com,” officials with the Winston-Salem-based bank wrote Thursday night on Twitter.

WSOCTV tried Friday morning to access a BB&T ATM in uptown Charlotte, but the message “Sorry, this ATM is temporarily offline," was displayed on the screen.

The company's website said many of its other banking services were down as well, including digital banking and Phone24, meaning customers couldn’t pay bills or check their accounts.

The issue appeared to be resolved before noon Friday.

“As our systems being to recover, our ATMs and automated Phone24 service are now available,” BB&T officials said in a statement around 11 a.m. Friday.

During the outage, bank customers were still able to use debit, credit and prepaid cards at places like the grocery store or gas station.

A bank spokesperson told WSOCTV, "We understand this is causing a major inconvenience for clients and our teams are continuing to work diligently to restore those services. We will work with clients who have incurred fees or experienced other challenges and continue to provide updates through our website and social media. At this time, we have no reason to believe this issue is related to cybersecurity."

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Gibson pushes back against bankruptcy talk, hires new CFO

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 2:45 PM

Gibson Les Paul guitars are displayed at the ''30th Street Guitars'' shop on August 13, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
Jemal Countess/Getty Images
Gibson Les Paul guitars are displayed at the ''30th Street Guitars'' shop on August 13, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)(Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Gibson is pushing back against reports of an impending bankruptcy and has hired a new chief financial officer, who starts with the company Monday.

Officials with Gibson Brands, Inc., maker of the famed Les Paul and ES-335 electric guitars, released a statement saying the company has met all “current obligations to the bondholders, is in the process of arranging a new credit facility to replace the bonds, and fully expects the bonds to be refinanced in the ordinary course of business.”

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In the statement, Gibson Chairman and Chief Executive Henry Juszkiewicz said: “These bonds expire as all fixed income instruments do at the end of their term.”

He said also that the company has been working with Jefferies investment bank to manage the refinancing process.

“While the musical instrument and pro audio segments have been profitable and growing, they are still below the level of success we saw several years ago,” Juszkiewicz said.

Also, officials with the Nashville-based company said that Benson Woo will return to Gibson as the company’s chief financial officer today.

>> Related: Gibson guitar company, maker of the Les Paul, facing bankruptcy after 116 years in business

Said Juszkiewicz: “We are excited and pleased that Benson with be coming back to the Gibson Brands family. He has a great knowledge of the industry, our current businesses and is liked and respected by everyone at Gibson and with whom he dealt. We are confident he will contribute to moving the company forward.”

Woo had previously served with Gibson in 2016. He replaces Bill Lawrence. 

The CEO said the company is “streamlining” and will focus its Philips brand consumer audio business on those products that have “greater growth potential,” as well as eliminating product segments that fall below expectations.

While Gibson has been struggling to re-pay debt, an officer with Moody’s Investors Service has told the Nashville Post that the company’s core guitar business remains sound.

“The core business is a very stable business, and a sustainable one,” Kevin Cassidy, of Moody’s, told the newspaper. “But you have a balance sheet problem and an operational problem.”

Gibson was founded in 1894 and makes musical instruments, as well as consumer and professional audio. Juszkiewicz acquired Gibson in 1986 with fellow investors. The company has a portfolio of over 100 well-recognized brand names.

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Report: Winn-Dixie owner preparing for bankruptcy, up to 200 stores could close

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 3:23 PM

Bi-Lo, Owner of Winn-Dixie, Reportedly Preparing For Bankruptcy

Winn-Dixie owner Bi-Lo is preparing for bankruptcy, according to a Bloomberg report.

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Up to 200 stores could close as part of a bankruptcy filing, Bloomberg reported. According to Winn-Dixie's website, the retailer has locations in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The bankruptcy filing could come as early as next month, Bloomberg reported. 

Bi-Lo has not publicly confirmed any bankruptcy plans.

Traditional grocery stores have faced increased competition from online retailers like Amazon.

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Gun manufacturer Remington to file for bankruptcy

Published: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 3:57 PM

Bankruptcy Filed by Gun Manufacturer Remington

The Remington Outdoor Company, one of America’s largest firearm and ammunition manufacturers, plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after reaching a deal Monday with its creditors, according to multiple reports.

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Company officials said in a news release that a prepackaged reorganization plan will be filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The deal will give control of the company to its lenders, Bloomberg News reported.

Remington seeks to lower its $950 million debt load, Reuters reported. The company’s executive chairman, Jim Geisler, said in a statement that “difficult industry conditions make today’s agreement prudent.”

“I am confident this regrouping ensures that Remington will continue as both a strong company and an indelible part of our national heritage,” he said.

Officials with Remington, the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the Connecticut shooting that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead in 2012, said the agreement with lenders will reduce its debt by about $700 million and add about $145 million in new capital.

The company was cleared of any wrongdoing in the 2012 shooting, but investors repulsed by the massacres distanced themselves from the company's owner, investment firm Cerberus Capital Management.

The company’s debtors include JPMorgan Asset Management and Franklin Templeton Investments, Reuters reported. They will trade their debt holdings for equity in Remington as part of the deal unveiled Monday.

A bankruptcy filing under Chapter 11 allows a company to reorganize and stay in business as the company works to repay debtors. Officials with Remington said in a news release Monday that the company will continue to operate as normal as the restructuring process gets underway.

“Importantly, the fundamentals of our core business remain strong,” Reminton CEO Anthony Acitelli said in a statement. “We have an outstanding collection of brands and products, the unqualified support of a vibrant community across the industry and a deep and powerful culture. We will emerge from this process with a deleveraged balance sheet and ample liquidity, positioning Remington to compete more aggressively and to seize future growth opportunities.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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