|Steve Case, architect of a merger debacle, is bowing out.
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In a statement issued from the company's headquarters on Sunday, Mr. Case said, "I believe stepping down is in the best interest of the company."
The resignation takes effect in May.
Mr. Case was an Internet innovator who rose to power in the frantic surge of investment that inflated the dot-com bubble. The America Online and Time Warner merger was negotiated at the peak of that boom.
Theoretically, AOL's acquisiton of Time Warner was supposed to spur both companies to greather growth through the audience-building cross-pollination of AOL's vast online distribution cababilities and heft of Time Warner's old-line editorial and entertainment content.
Instead, the combination of both companies in the post-dot-com era has resulted in a major corporate disaster, with the value of AOL Time Warner stock plummeting 70% since the deal was completed in January 2001.
In recent months Mr. Case has been the target of increasingly strident criticism by investors outside the company and top executives within. Many have advocated his resignation or ouster.
Indeed, in his Sunday statement, Mr. Case noted that "some shareholders continue to focus their disappointment with the company's post-merger performance on me personally."
The company statement said that after Mr. Case leaves his post as chairman, he will continue to serve as a director and will co-chair the corporate Strategy Committee.