America Online


told workers it will cut between 700 and a thousand jobs and said


James Barksdale will give up day-to-day operation of the browser concern, which AOL acquired last week.

At an all-hands meeting Wednesday, top-level executives from the two tech giants laid out the combined company's future. "This is not just adding Netscape and AOL together," said Bob Pittman, AOL's president and chief operating officer. "We're rethinking the entire organization."

Pittman said AOL and Netscape will each lay off between 350 and 500 workers. "Unfortunately, not everyone will have a role," he said, adding that the companies sought a merger that didn't amount to simply bolting the two firms together.


last week that AOL would lay off Netscape workers. Before the merger AOL and Netscape together employed about 12,000 workers.

Pittman said the combined company will be reorganized into four product groups: interactive services, interactive properties, Netscape enterprise and international. Several senior Netscape executives, including NetCenter general manager Mike Homer, will assume key positions in the new company.

But Barksdale, Netscape's president and CEO, said he will step down from day-to-day management, though he will join AOL's board. "This means that Steve Case and Bob Pittman work for me," he quipped in his Mississippi drawl. The audience roared.

AOL was down 5 7/8, or 4.9%, at 115 1/8.

Slipped Disk

Meanwhile, the technology sector appears to be in limbo. First-quarter earnings are beginning to filter in, but fears that earnings may not meet lofty expectations are keeping the market on edge.

Those jittery about tech earnings couldn't have found anything reassuring about a recent annoucement from



. The maker of disk-drive components became the latest technology company to warn of an earnings shortfall. Read-Rite said it expects to post a loss for its first quarter ending March 31 as revenue will fall short of estimates. The

First Call

consensus currently forecasts a profit of 7 cents a share in the March quarter.

Read-Rite was off 1 9/16, or 20%, at 6 3/16. Rival



was off 1/2, or 10%, at 5 1/8.

Another IPO Winner

It's not really a surprise anymore, but the latest Internet IPO is running away.

(MINE:Nasdaq), which provides Internet news and information, has more than doubled from its offering price of 25, which was set Tuesday night. The stock was up 33, or 132%, at 58 during its first day of trading after rising as high as 62 1/4.

Action in Tuesday's hot IPO,

(AWEB:Nasdaq), shows why experts say not to participate in IPOs in the first couple of days of trading. After closing at 40 on Tuesday, the stock traded to a high of 50 early in the session, but has since reversed course and was trading 1 3/8 lower at 38 5/8.