AOL is officially getting kicked out of the Time Warner nest, nine years after the pair hooked up in a $100-billion-plus cascade of Internet funny money (see Time Warner Inc. Announces AOL Spinoff Plan).
In January 2000, when the deal was announced, Time Warner Inc. CEO Gerald Levin said: “This strategic combination with AOL accelerates the digital transformation of Time Warner by giving our creative and content businesses the widest possible canvas.”
Needless to say, things didn’t pan out the way the engineers of the deal expected. The imagined synergies did not transpire, and AOL has dragged down the rest of the business as it has shed Internet subscribers and failed to turn the corner on advertising.
Today, former AOL CEO Steve Case, via a Twitter post, issued a mea culpa of sorts:
Thomas Edison: “Vision without execution is hallucination” - pretty much sums up AOL/TW - failure of leadership (myself included)
In earlier posts, he said: “Merger could’ve been transformative: driven convergence of TV/Internet/phone, ushered in digital music & video, etc. … But synergy didn’t happen. Didn’t integrate businesses to drive innovation. Lots of missed opportunities.”
Case, now chairman of investment firm Revolution, also noted: “Resigned as Chairman 6+ years ago, left Board soon after, urged company to go left or go right, integrate or liberate” and linked to a 2005 op-ed he wrote in The Washington Post, “It’s Time to Take It Apart.”