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PeoplePC was founded by Nick Grouf, Max Metral and David Waxman, and launched in the United States in October 1999. The PeoplePC plan offered a new, brand name computer replaced every 3 years, dial-up Internet access, and in-home warranty service for a $24.95 monthly payment ("about the cost of internet access alone" according to their advertising). While the marketing made it seem like a monthly service, it was actually more of a financing plan which required credit and involved paying off the computer over 3 years. The company landed contracts to equip over 300,000 Ford employees, 100,000 Delta Air Lines employees, 250,000 Vivendi employees, and 10,000 New York Times employees with PeoplePC memberships almost fully subsidized by the parent companies. The business model called for "collective buying" to allow PeoplePC to generate additional revenue from advertising, partnerships, and premium products. As this revenue was not high enough, PeoplePC began to focus on running a very lean and low cost ISP and support business.
In 2001, PeoplePC began to offer an ISP service alone without the purchase of a computer. At present, only the ISP service remains. PeoplePC has coverage nationwide with over 8,000 access numbers. The software incorporates a 'Smart Dialer' technology that is advertised to automatically select a number. It also includes spam controls, virus protection, and a pop-up blocker. An accelerated version is also available (although the accelerated version is nothing more than a program that compresses images on websites so they do not take as long to load). Their headquarters are located in Atlanta, Georgia.
In August 2000, PeoplePC went public under the ticker PEOP at $10 a share and its stock declined quickly.
On June 10, 2002, EarthLink acquired PeoplePC for $0.02 a share, and continues to operate it as a separate ISP.
On May 10, 2005, PeoplePC became the first low cost ISP to include free Internet call waiting with its software. The free service displays the caller ID information of incoming calls on-screen. Also added was the availability of up to four email addresses per account with 100MB of storage each.
In 2006, J.D. Power and Associates ranked PeoplePC Online as the first value-priced dial-up provider to receive the highest ratings from customers in four factors: cost of service, billing, e-mail services, and offerings.
- PeoplePC’s Service Ranked Highest in Customer Satisfaction By J.D. Power and Associates., Internet Service Provider Residential Customer Satisfaction Survey, 2006