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Steve Case co-founded and served as CEO of America Online (AOL), overseeing the massive merger that created AOL Time Warner Inc. He served as chairman of AOL Time Warner Inc. until his resignation in 2003.
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Steve Case was born on August 21, 1958, in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1983, he was hired as a marketing consultant for Control Video. That company eventually morphed into America Online (AOL), and Case became CEO in 1991. Under Case's watch, AOL went through a massive $350 billion merger with Time Warner. Case served as chairman of AOL Time Warner Inc. until his resignation in 2003. In 2011,
he was selected by President Barack Obama to serve as chairman of the Startup America Partnership.
Entrepreneur and businessman Stephen McConnell Case was born on August 21, 1958, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Case began his entrepreneurial career at age 6, when he and his older brother set up a juice stand, selling lime juice for 2¢ a cup. Not long after, the brothers established Case Enterprises, which sold seeds and greeting cards through the mail and with door-to-door sales. Case attended Williams College, where he showed an avid interest in music: He wrote rock reviews for small local papers in order to get free concert tickets and albums and sang with two new-wave rock groups.
Case put his entrepreneurial instincts on hold after graduating with a B.A. in political science in 1980. He went to work for Proctor & Gamble, where he marketed hair care products, including Lilt home permanents. Later he joined PepsiCo, where he managed new pizza development for PepsiCo's Pizza Hut division from 1982-1983. His job required extensive travel, visiting restaurants in the field to sample new pizza varieties.
By 1983, he missed the entrepreneurial life. That year he stopped at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with his older brother Dan, who worked at the high-profile venture capitalist firm Hambrecht & Quist. Dan introduced him to the founders of Control Video (a gaming service for Atari computer users), who offered Case a job as marketing assistant.
Case took the job and stayed with the company during several years of turmoil, recruiting capital for the company. In 1985, the company changed its name to Quantum Computer Services and focused on providing online service for Commodore computer users. Case also struck online service deals with the Apple and Tandy Corporations. In 1991, Case held a company contest to pick a new name for the firm, and selected America Online (AOL), the name he suggested himself.
The following year, Case became CEO of the company. With only 200,000 members, AOL lagged behind CompuServe and Prodigy, while other players were rapidly entering the market. The company went public in 1992, raising $66 million, which Case directed toward rapid growth.
Through aggressive marketing that included packaging AOL disks in magazines or sending them through a direct-mail campaign, membership grew steadily through the 1990s, reaching 17 million members in 1999. Despite growing pains, which included occasional service blackouts and busy signals that enraged customers, the company continued to grow, successfully outlasting threats by Microsoft, and by the development of the World Wide Web itself.
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