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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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In late 1998, the company purchased longtime rival CompuServe and in March 1999, bought Netscape, becoming the largest and most significant online player in the industry. So significant was the purchase of AOL, in fact, that Bill Gates' lawyers argued that the U.S. Justice Department should drop its antitrust suit against Microsoft, which now faced stiffer competition in the online arena.
In January 2000, AOL announced that it would purchase Time Warner Inc. (the world's largest media and entertainment company) for $166 billion in stock. Time Warner's extended list of media holdings include: CNN and HBO; Time, People and Sports Illustrated magazines; and the Warner Bros. film, television, and music properties. Case was appointed chairman of the new media conglomerate (to be named AOL Time Warner Inc.), while Gerald Levin, the then chairman and CEO of Time Warner, was named chief executive officer. The AOL Time Warner merger—the biggest in history—was finalized and approved by the U.S. government in early 2001.
Under Case's direction, AOL partnered with Sprint PCS and Nokia in order to expand AOL's services from desktop computers to wireless media (cellular phones, pagers, and electronic organizers). Despite these efforts, the company's share price continued to plummet, and in January 2003, Case resigned from his post.
In 2011, Case was selected by President Barack Obama to serve as chairman of the Startup America Partnership.
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