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AOL,Time Warner And the Sorry State of a Union
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Nonfiction; Acquisitions & mergers; Books-titles -- There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere
Author: Dizikes, Peter
Date: Dec 26, 2003
Start Page: C.01
Section: STYLE

When examining why the merger flopped, however, [Kara Swisher] seems overly impressed by the clash-of-cultures explanation, repeatedly emphasizing how both sides failed to mesh: "To Time Warner, AOL was rude and rambunctious, facile and ignorant about the complexities of the various businesses. . . . To AOL, Time Warner was political for the sake of politics, slow moving and obdurate, and unwilling to make the changes needed to face down the challenges of the future." That may be, but the AOL-Time Warner union did not fail primarily because of clashing management styles. It failed because it was a bad idea. [Gerald Levin], for one, seems incapable of articulating precisely how Time Warner, already a diverse media giant in 1999 -- with businesses as a broadband Internet and cable provider augmenting its copious television, film, print and music holdings -- would find synergy in a dial-up Internet service provider. "Internet DNA was absolutely essential to me," Levin tells Swisher, a comment revealing for its vagueness. Surely AOL's negligible broadband presence should have mattered, too. Time Warner now seems as likely to find digital convergence without AOL's presence, anyway.

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