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IM: AOL Could Be Sold

Apr 26, 2004  •  Post A Comment

In the wake of a presentation to the Time Warner board by AOL CEO Jonathan Miller last week, the online giant and Time Warner Cable announced a number of initiatives to help them work together, including shared services and an agreement to push TW’s Road Runner and AOL broadband services. However, behind the scenes several TW sources insisted the company would still like to unload AOL, with possible buyers including Google, Microsoft, SBC or Yahoo! “It will be gone by the end of the year,” one TW executive predicted. The buyer will not be former Chairman Steve Case, though he apparently did make a tentative foray late last year to buy back AOL for about $10 billion. Rebuffed by the Time Warner board (“You can’t underestimate the animosity against him,” one analyst said), Mr. Case has been telling intimates that he’s moved on. What made us blink was Mr. Case’s appearance at the Technology Entertainment Design conference Feb. 26, where he was interviewed by MSNBC’s Forrest Sawyer and repeatedly stressed he was not up to speed on the media business. “It was embarrassing,” said a TED participant. “He didn’t want to say anything.” (Perhaps Mr. Case himself was embarrassed by the heading he appeared under in the official TED program: “Spectacular Erections.”) Efforts to reach Mr. Case for comment at his home in Hawaii were not successful.