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"Given that some shareholders continue to focus their disappointment with the company's post-merger performance on me personally, I have concluded that we should take steps now to avoid the possibility of that effort hindering our ability to pull together as a team and focus fully on our businesses."
——Steve Case, former Chairman of AOL Times Warner
CASE CLOSED!!!
Embattled AOL Time Warner Chairman
Steps Down
Blamed by shareholders for AOL Time Warner’s sharp fall in fortunes, Chairman Steve Case has resigned. Case finally succumbed to major shareholders and board directors pressure on Sunday, saying he didn't want to be a distraction to the company.

Case's departure, effective in May, came just a day after the second anniversary of AOL’s purchase of Time Warner.

The stock price of the combined company has plummeted, wiping out tens of billions of dollars in shareholder wealth. AOL Time Warner, which took a $54 billion charge last year to account for a decline in America Online's value, is expected to report another multibillion write-down later this month for the same reason – possibly in excess of $10 billion, according to some analysts.

In a statement released Sunday night, AOL said Case had decided to step down effective at the annual meeting in May but would remain a director.

The resignation means that most of the architects of the merger have been removed from the company. Just over a year ago, Gerald Levin quit as Chief Executive of the combined company after clashing with Case. Last summer, Robert Pittman, the former America Online President, quit amid increasing criticism of his management style from executives within the Time Warner divisions, according to published reports.

After Pittman left, pressure mounted on Case to quit. Case notified Richard Parsons, the Time Warner veteran who was named CEO after Levin's resignation, over the weekend.

In the statement, Case said that the decision was "personally very difficult." The company, he wrote, didn't "need distractions at this critical time and given that some shareholders continue to focus their disappointment with the company's post-merger performance on me personally, I have concluded that we should take steps now to avoid the possibility of that effort hindering our ability to pull together as a team and focus fully on our businesses."

Case, considered an Internet visionary, has become a lightning rod for intense anger among company executives, especially those from the Time Warner side, who feel their valuable business was sold for a song to Case and his cohorts at America Online. According to the Wall Street Journal, some staff members have believed that Case should take responsibility for the merger's failure, as well as for the aggressive business culture at America Online that led to questionable deals now under investigation by government authorities. Some were also frustrated by what they saw as Case's single-minded focus on technology as the driving force in entertainment's future, believing it impedes the adoption of a more realistic business strategy.

Case joined America Online in 1985, when he was a young marketing executive. The Hawaii native joined an early online video game firm in Washington called Control Video Corp. Soon after he arrived, the company folded. Rather than pack up his office, Case joined with one of the company's backers, Jim Kimsey, to start a new venture called Quantum Computer Services. The new company, which provided online service for users of the Commodore 64 computer, eventually changed its name to America Online and expanded to other computers.

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