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AOL: Down to Business

How did AOL see itself after the 2001 merger with Time-Warner — and has reality set in yet?

July 26, 2002

How did AOL see itself after the 2001 merger with Time-Warner — and has reality set in yet?

Even well before AOL merged with Time-Warner, the company has been closely watched by admirers and critics alike. Some saw AOL as the next Microsoft, others took a more cautious view. Our new Read My Lips feature examines how AOL saw itself after the merger — and how reality has sunk in.

How has AOL/Time-Warner been doing in 2002?

“Good days and bad days, and mostly bad days recently.”

(Steve Case, chairman of AOL/Time-Warner, July 2002)

How certain is AOL about its future?

“I’m desperately in need of a strategy.”

(Richard Parson, CEO of AOL/Time-Warner, April 2002)

What is even more important than having a vision?

“Vision without the ability to execute it is probably a hallucination.”

(Steve Case, February 2000)

Why is it hard to find AOL's guiding principles?

“There are no road signs to help navigate. And in fact, no one has yet determined which side of the road we’re supposed to be on.”

(Steve Case, February 2001)

What made Time-Warner such an attractive target?

“We went from one million to 20 million subscribers in the past five years. That’s great, but a billion people watch CNN.”

(Steve Case, January 2000)

What is AOL's business goal?

"We’ve gone from members spending an average of one hour a week to one hour a day on the service — but there are 23 other hours in a day.”

(Steve Case, January 2000)

How does it feel to have been taken over by AOL?

“The AOL purchase was of course good for our wallets — but bad for our souls.”

(Rand McKinney, Netscape employee, March 2000)

Has AOL's reputation been consistent?

“A year ago, analysts were asking us, ‘When are you going to get your AOL deal done?’ And now the very same people are saying ‘When are you going to be able to get out of your AOL deal?'”

(Internet entrepreneur, July 2001)

How big is big when it comes to media companies?

“People have been a little naïve and simplistic about relationships between so-called moguls. Media companies now deal with each other more like countries than corporations.”

(Steve Case, February 2000)

Has AOL become more modest over time?

“We probably alienated some people during the boom years. We have to get them back.”

(Steve Case, July 2002)

How does the market look at AOL now?

“They are 100 percent better than last year, but they are still only halfway there.”

(Sharon Katz, vice president at Modem Media, July 2002)

And finally, Mr. Case, how do you view the future development of AOL/Time-Warner?

“I am confident that AOL will re-emerge as the key driver of growth for the whole company.”

(Steve Case, July 2002)