America Online co-founder Steve Case has handed in his resignation to Time Warner’s board of directors. Case will reportedly spend more time working with his new investment firm Revolution, launched in April 2005. Case previously stepped down as Chairman of AOL-Time Warner in 2003.
Time Warner merged quite suddenly with online giant AOL in 2000 in what, at the time, was the world’s biggest media merger. The move sent shockwaves through both the entertainment and online industries: that an apparently upstart online company would be in a position to merge on equal terms with a media titan like Time Warner was deemed a sea change in American industry and culture: the Internet had finally arrived. “Synergy” became the buzzword of choice at the end of the dot-com Internet boom, with the dual powerhouses of Time Warner and AOL expected to reap tremendous benefits from cross-promotion and leveraging channels and technologies to boost revenues.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way.
Since the merger, share prices in the combined company have tumbled, AOL has hemorrhaged subscribers, investors have seriously questioned the wisdom of the merger, and most of its architects have exited the firm. The future of AOL itself is in question: although Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons says he’s committed to the online enterprise, recent speculation has suggested Time Warner may sell a stake in AOL to Microsoft, or at least enter into some form of long-term partnership with the software giant.