EarthLink & MindSpring Merge -- EarthLink and MindSpring, two of the largest U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs), have agreed to merge, forming a new company to be called EarthLink and headed by a combination of the companies' management teams. EarthLink and MindSpring both started as small independent ISPs and grew through aggressive marketing and customer acquisition aided by purchasing smaller ISPs. With an estimated 3 million subscribers, the combined company will move past AT&T WorldNet and Microsoft's MSN to jump into second place in the ISP market, though still well behind America Online's estimated 20 million subscribers. The merger makes sense, since EarthLink and MindSpring competed for a similar customer base, and the companies can better focus on competition with AOL, MSN, and AT&T WorldNet by merging their operations. [ACE]
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