Thursday, May 28, 2009, 2:45 PM

Steve Case makes his case on the Time Warner/AOL split

(Photo credit: Business Week)
Time Warner announced this morning that it would part ways with AOL, officially ending a marriage that was hailed in 2000 as a merger for the ages between giants of "old" and "new" media.

Of note is how Steve Case, former AOL chairman and architect of the merger, chose to make his views known about the break-up. Case didn't call a friendly reporter (as far as I can tell) or pen an op-ed. Instead, he used Twitter to articulate why he believes the merger failed.

The fact that Case chose a micro-blogging site signals the continuing migration of business leaders to sites that allow them to communicate directly with the public, free of interference or potential misinterpretation from reporters.

Here are some highlights from Case, who wrote in 8 short bursts between 8:28 a.m. and 9:28 a.m:

"My perspective on AOL & Time Warner: has been a long, tortuous journey - and after a difficult decade, its time to open new chapter."

"Merger could've been transformative: driven convergence of TV/Internet/phone, ushered in digital music & video, etc.

"But synergy didn't happen. Didn't integrate businesses to drive innovation. Lots of missed opportunities."

"AOL not what it was a decade ago, to be sure. Uphill battle to return to greatness. But doable. Wish the team at AOL the very best!"

"Thomas Edison: 'Vision without execution is hallucination' - pretty much sums up AOL/TW - failure of leadership (myself included)."


Case did more than simply reach the 12,500 people who follow him on Twitter. He reached millions more when his Twitter followers posted his comments for their own networks to read and when the Associated Press included his tweets in a wire story, meaning that Case's comments are bound for publication in newspapers across the country.

Twitter also allowed him to articulate a message exactly as he wanted without the possibility of slipping up or being misquoted.

Case isn't the only business leader or personality to use Twitter to influence public opinion. Venture capitalists, airlines, computer companies, and financial advisers are just a few of the other industries integrating online communities in to their broader communications strategy. Readers of this blog would be wise to consider whether their company should do the same.

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