Steve Case is ready to go back to the future. Nearly two years after the merger between America Online and Time Warner, The Wall Street Journal reports Case would like to annul the marriage and once again head up an independent AOL.
AOL Time Warner
The Journal says it's not clear if Case is serious about wanting to break up the company, or if he's just expressing frustration. It may not matter either way, as top executives -- many of whom want to see Case ousted as chairman -- reportedly have no interest in a spinoff.
While the next few weeks should be interesting, this whole episode points to continuing turmoil in the company's upper echelons. Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin and AOL COO Robert Pittman have departed under pressure. Other executives are still pointing fingers and shuffling blame. Vice Chairman Ted Turner, who has lost a fortune as the largest shareholder, is extremely unhappy and wants to see Case removed.
It's apparent something has to give. The merger has been a disaster, and things aren't going to improve without cooperation at the top. A spinoff would be an extremely complicated process, but it just might be the best medicine for this ailing giant.