AOL, Time Warner, and the Sorry State of a Union
Review of There Must be a Pony in Here Somewhere, by Kara Swisher with Lisa Dickey.
By Peter Dizikes. The Washington Post, December 26, 2003
Remember synergy? Once upon a time — the 1990s, to be precise — scores of corporate leaders assured us that, thanks to the new business math, companies adding the right assets together could multiply in value. Alas, there was one problem with synergy: It rarely worked.
Consider the disastrous merger between America Online and Time Warner, whose CEOs, Steve Case and Gerald Levin, presented the deal in January 2000 as the ultimate synergy between old and new media. Four years later, AOL Time Warner’s finances have sagged, Case and Levin have been ousted and the companies have surgically detached their names from one another. As Kara Swisher demonstrates in her lively book about the merger, “There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere,” the most obvious synergy generated by the union has been an epidemic of squabbling far greater than any two companies could possibly have produced if left apart.
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My work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Slate, Salon, Technology Review, and numerous other publications. You can learn more about me here.
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