Monday, January 10, 2000

Associated Press
Steve Case turned America Online into the
world's No. 1 Internet company.

Punahou grad Case
to serve as chairman
of media-’Net giant

The Honolulu native will run
a $30-billion-a-year company

From staff and wire reports


Today's megamerger between Time Warner Inc. and America Online Inc. will put Punahou School graduate Steve Case at the helm of the world's largest media and Internet company.

Case, the 41-year-old chairman and CEO of America Online, will be the chairman of the merged company, to be called AOL Time Warner.

At a press conference today in New York, Case said he approached Time Warner Chairman and CEO Gerald Levin in the fall to suggest the merger in which AOL shareholders will own 55 percent of the combined company.

Case said it was his idea to become chairman and focus on the big picture for the new company and leave the management of the company to Levin, who will be CEO of AOL Time Warner.

For billionaire Case, it's another step in a remarkable career that started with developing toppings for Pizza Hut before joining Control Video Corp., AOL's predecessor, in 1984.

Case, a Honolulu native, is one of four children of prominent local attorney Daniel Case and his wife Carol. He graduated from Punahou in 1976 and attended Williams College in Massachusetts where he majored in political science.

He was a co-founder of Dulles, Va.-based AOL and became its president in 1991, CEO in 1993; and chairman in 1995, according to Bloomberg News.

Under his leadership, AOL has become the world's No. 1 Internet company with more than 20 million subscribers, $4.8 billion in fiscal 1999 revenues, and a market capitalization of $166 billion. "Our strategy has always been crystal clear," Case said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle last year. "Consumers want a central location where they can find good content. And they want someone to make it easy for them."

Many analysts and industry watchers credit him with bringing the Internet to the masses.

"AOL is a triumph of Steve Case's marketing skills," Dave Cassel, editor of the AOL Watch Web site, told the Chronicle. "They have flourished despite a series of technical problems."

Just a few years ago, hardly anyone would have expected AOL to be at the forefront of the Internet. It has weathered hostile takeover bids from Microsoft Corp. and AT&T Corp., several technical meltdowns of its online service in 1996 and 1997, and persistent sniping from the online elite who dismiss it as "the McDonald's of cyberspace."

While others engaged in strategy du jour, AOL remained steady and plowed ahead with the same plan. For more than a decade, Case has focused on building an audience by offering an easy-to-use Internet service for the rest of us. AOL is not so much the McDonald's of cyberspace as the Apple Computer. Case is "like a metronome," said a rival firm's executive, who requested anonymity. "He stuck to his guns, and now he's one of the most powerful people in the industry."

The Case family's business acumen doesn't end with the AOL chief. His brother, Daniel H. Case III, is chairman and CEO of Chase Securities West and head of Chase's global technology group. He had been chairman and CEO of securities business Hambrecht & Quist Group, which was sold to Chase Manhattan Corp. in September for $1.35 billion.

Another brother, Jeffrey, recently returned to Hawaii as executive vice president for marketing at insurance brokerage and risk-management company Aon Risk Services Inc.

Steve Case, meanwhile, strengthened his ties to Hawaii in July by investing $39.2 million for a 41.2 percent stake in Maui Land & Pineapple Inc.

Bloomberg News, the San Francisco Chronicle and
the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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