Friday, January 15, 2010

10 Year Anniversary of the Failed AOL/Time Warner Merger

On January 10th it was the 10 year anniversary of the failed AOL and Time Warner merger.  The NY Times has a nice article and detailed time line here.

I was in New York City shortly after the deal was announced.  AOL was a huge Sun customer and Time Warner was also a Sun customer.  What I remember wa the excitement at AOL and the stated reservations at Time Warner.   AOL employees were just giddy about the prospects of being combined with Time Warner.

The telling comment to me was from a number of Time Warner employees who said that the deal would fail because "there are simply too many silos at Time Warner that AOL will never be able to figure out."

That comment proved to be quite prophetic....

AOL's inability to transition from dial-up, where they essentially controlled everything, to broadband was a large contributing factor as well.

My experience with mergers is that they fail for non technical reasons with a culture clash being reason #1.