MAPS Fires Half Its Staff, Closes PAS Unit

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Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC reportedly fired half its 27 employees and closed its Policy Administration Services outsourcing unit after its largest client bailed out on April 1.


The PAS unit, which outsourced spam prevention services for Internet service providers trying to monitor their internal networks, was closed after its largest client decided to take its spam prevention inhouse, according to a source close to the company. The unit recently was whittled down from 12 to five employees.


A couple of MAPS' clients cut their outsourcing budgets significantly, another source said, leaving the company with too many employees and not enough work to go around.


Calls to MAPS seeking comment were not returned.


"MAPS felt the impact of the economic downturn like any business and took the same sort of steps any business would take," said William Cole, formerly director of MAPS' customer operations unit and head of PAS. He was let go on April 4 with the rest of his staff.


Cole was hired in March, after consulting for MAPS for nearly a year.


MAPS, based in Redwood City, CA, provides spam-prevention services for Internet service providers and computer systems administrators. It operates the Realtime Blackhole List, a subscription service that lists known and suspected spammers and helps prevent the dissemination of spam.


The company reportedly cut staff across the board, but it went easy on its online operations division, according to the source. That division runs MAPS' RBL and other lists.


The source noted that MAPS has not given up entirely on providing outsourced abuse desk services. The company told the laid-off employees that they may be called back if demand for the service picks up. However, none of those employees has been asked to return yet.


If the PAS unit is revived, the source said, it would probably be staffed with entirely new people, not with the laid-off employees.


At its height, the source said, the PAS unit had only a handful of clients. The source would not say how many clients the PAS unit worked with or who they were.


John Lawlor, president of EmailChannel, an e-mail services provider in Boca Raton, FL, that offers the MailMutt service, said this might bring back some much-needed perspective to the permission-based e-mail market.


"Hopefully this nuclear Internet winter/spring will bring some sanity to the permission wars," Lawlor said. "Far too many human hours have gone into the dissection of the mind of the consumer as it relates to e-mail."


To some, the timing of these layoffs is curious, coming on the heels of Ray Everett-Church's resignation as chairman of the company's newly formed Corporate Advisory Board. He resigned earlier this month, citing other commitments that prevented him from devoting enough time to his MAPS duties.


However, Everett-Church, who was named to the position in mid-January, dismissed the timing as a coincidence.


"My departure had nothing to do with any changes at MAPS," Everett-Church said. "I have taken on some new consulting clients whose needs were going to make it impossible for me to devote the time to assisting MAPS at this difficult time in the market."


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