January 10,2000 – Even though the continuing saga of Elian Gonzalez was still front-page news, the announcement of a merger between AOL and Time-Warner was the talk of the new decade and possibly the new millennium. The largest of is kind up to that point, AOL, the online social media hotspot of the 90s was flexing its newly-found muscles and merging with Time-Warner and all the publishing, movies, TV and Music that went with it. The cost of this little excursion into our homes and private lives was $160 Billion in stock.
On paper, it seemed to be a good idea. Touted as a “defining moment” and “a new age”, this was the be-all/end-all marriage of Technology and Content, and was regarded as the single greatest opportunity for shopping and entertainment in history. AOL CEO Steve Case heralded it as the “giant step in communication”. Time-Warner saw it as a shareholders dream, with superior short-term and long-term returns.
If only . . .
As was quickly found out with this new technology, there were certain pitfalls. A scant few months later, the marriage would go very South very quickly, as the dot.com bubble burst, evaporating imaginary revenues and plummeting the value of AOL.
In what started off as a historic Entertainment/Technology merger, quickly became a cautionary tale over the vagaries of the marketplace. And AOL/Time-Warner became a textbook study in failed ideas.
But that was jumping into the future.
On this day, it was all about slapping backs and high-fives and rose-colored visions of cash. No one could predict the future on this day – everyone was too busy scratching their heads and licking their lips to peek behind the curtain.
And that’s just a small slice of what went on, this January 10, 2000 as reported on The CBS World News Roundup: Late Edition.