There's an article in today's New York Times about this being the ten year anniversary of the AOL Time Warner merger. There is no way to spin this merger as anything but an abject disaster, but even when you read the interviews from the executives with ten years of hinsight to look back on, it's still clear that none of them get it.
There was no possible way this could have worked. I remember when this happened I thought it was a terrible idea and I was a 21 year old goofball who had yet to graduate college. The fact that this deal was based on the future of the internet being the AOL model is, simply put, asinine. Even in 1999 AOL was the history of the internet. I mean, seriously, this deal was based on AOL and their fucking dial-up internet service being the way that people were going to go online well into the future.
AOL somehow convinced people in 1995 that they needed to be sheltered from the "real internet" and needed to navigate only within the parameters of the AOL web. To get on the real internet from AOL you had to jump through all these hoops. But even back then a lot of companies didn't buy into the idea of creating separate web channels for the AOL folk, even though they were like 98% of the market. If you had asked me in 1995 when I was actually using AOL I could have told you that there was no way it was gong to last.
Don't you remember going to college circa 1996 and going to the library or wherever and sitting down at a computer with a T1 line and going on to the real internet without all those constraints from AOL? As awesome as going from no internet to AOL was, going from AOL to the real internet was liberating.
The only thing I like even a little bit about being a former AOL user is the fact that we (me, and the driver) are in a small set of people who can make that weird dial up modem noise and have it actually mean something to us. It's an esoteric pop culture reference that we'll have forever. Anyway, if these guys had asked their grandkids what they thought about the merger, not one of them would have advised in its favor. Old ass motherfuckers.