Every era has it's merger; every era has it's story. During the LBO craze, it was the RJR Nabisco buyout. But for the new media age it was an even bigger disaster, the AOL Time Warner deal. At the time, the deal struck fear into every corner of the media business, AOL and Time Warner were considered a matchless combination of old media content and new media distribution.
The deal provoked rumours of consolidation among the other players: Yahoo! would buy Disney, Microsoft would get NBC. But very soon after the deal was announced things started to go bad - and then from bad to worse. Less than four years after the deal was announced, every significant figure in the deal - save the politically astute Richard Parsons - has left the company along with scores of others. Nearly a $100 billion dollars was written off and a stock that once traded at $100 now trades near $10.
What happened? Where did it all go wrong? In this deeply sourced and deftly written book, Nina Munk gives us a window into the minds of two of the oddest men to ever run billion-dollar empires. Steve Case, the boy wonder who built AOL one free floppy disk at a time, was searching for a way out of the New Economy. He knew he had a currency in AOL's stock price that needed to be exercised before it expired.
Meanwhile, Jerry Levin, who'd made his reputation as a visionary when he put HBO on satellite distribution, was searching for a monumental deal. These two men, more interested in their place in history than their personal fortunes each thought they were out-smarting the other.
Munk reveals the byzantine politics Time Warner and the boisterous culture of AOL. Following the careers of numerous courtiers on both sides, she paints a picture of business run amok where executives run into each other at the bar mitzvah of colleague's son and bicker over use of the company jet, where bitter feuds begin over small matters and fortunes are lost because greedy executives missed their opportunity to cash in their company stock.