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Steven Case — American Online

What does its founder say about AOL — and what do others say?

December 15, 2000

What does its founder say about AOL — and what do others say?

While the news has been bleak recently for most of America’s dot-coms, Internet giant AOL has just gotten a big shot in the arm. Its 41 year old CEO, Steve Case, just pulled off the biggest merger in history with Time Warner. In our new Read My Lips feature, we hear what Mr. Case has to say about himself and his company — and what others have to say about him.

How is business?

“We went from one million to 20 million subscribers in the past five years. That’s great, but a billion people watch CNN.” (January 2000)

What are the chances for FTC approval of the merger?

“We don’t believe conditions are necessary or appropriate.” (on FTC approval of the merger, October 2000)

Is the merger building a monopoly?

“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.” (February 2000)

Is the competition with Bertelsmann’s Thomas Middelhoff unfriendly?

“Thomas is still on my ‘buddy list.'” (February 2000)

What do others have to say about AOL’s erstwhile partnership with Bertelsmann — that ended with the Time Warner merger?

“The relationship between Thomas Middelhoff and Steve Case has been the most important transatlantic relationship in the media in recent years.” (Michael J. Wolf, head of the media and entertainment business at Booz Allen, in February 2000)

What does Bill Gates think about AOL?

“I can buy 20% of you — or I can buy all of you. Or I can go into business myself — and bury you.” (Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, in 1998)

Is AOL a good company to work for?

“The AOL purchase was of course good for our wallets, but bad for our souls.” (Netscape employee, March 2000)

Is there a conflict of interest between the two companies?

“Time-Warner is a company with almost indecipherable conflicts of interests. It will be interesting to see how AOL sorts out the priorities.” (John Battelle, publisher of The Industry Standard, in January 2000)

How does Wall Street view AOL?

“AOL is the company Wall Street loves to hate. People are going to have to recognize that it’s the McDonald’s of the on-line industry.” (Wall Street money manager in November 1996)

AOL at a Glance

By 1999, AOL's share price has increased more than 35,000% since its initial public offering in 1992. By comparison, over the twelve years from 1986 to mid-1998, Microsoft's stock price increased about 11,000%. (Financial Times)

As of early 2000, the combined value of AOL and Time-Warner (at $240 billion, with a total of 82,000 employees) represented almost 30% of the gross national product of Spain — a country of 40 million people. (Washington Post)

As of mid-2000, AOL’s market value of $131 billion was bigger than that of any other media concern in the world. (New York Times)

As of 2000, AOL’s network handles approximately 60 million user sessions per day – and 600 million member hours per month. (Morgan Stanley Dean Witter)