Millennialists were right: The new year has seen some big changes –namely, the creation of a new breed of media power players.
Only last week, Dulles, Va.-based America Online chairman and CEO Steve Case and prexy and chief operating officer Robert Pittman were the toppers of the world’s largest Internet company, coming up with new ways to boost subscribership for their popular e-mail and Web service.
But a weekend, a few handshakes and the biggest merger in business history later, the dealmakers have joined the ranks of Rupert Murdoch, Michael Eisner and Sumner Redstone, promising to change the way the world works and entertains itself.
Their goal: To redefine the future of communication, news, retailing and entertainment in a time when computers, televisions, telephones and other electronic devices are converging.
Soon to be chairman of AOL Time Warner, Case, 41, was born in Honolulu and graduated from Williams College in 1980. He worked in marketing, dabbling in computers when he joined Control Video, a startup developing vidgames. In 1985, that company, renamed Quantum Computer Services, began developing online services. In 1989 Case redubbed it America Online. Pittman, who will share the co-chief operating officer post with Time Warner prexy Richard Parsons, is best known as the programmer who created music cabler MTV Networks in 1981.
After Viacom purchased MTV, Pittman became prexy and CEO of Quantum Media, an entertainment company he founded with MCA only to later sell it to Time Warner and become CEO and prexy of Time Warner Enterprises.
There, he founded Court TV and oversaw the acquisition of Six Flags Theme Parks. He was named chair and CEO of Six Flags Entertainment when TW acquired management control in 1992. He joined AOL as prexy and CEO of its AOL Networks unit in 1996.