The Buzz

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IT HAS COME TO THIS. Corporate spin-ergy of the week: that the impetus to ax "AOL" from AOL Time Warner comes via the embattled division's CEO Jon Miller. "As AOL Time Warner became known as, for all intents and purposes, `AOL,' any controversy or criticism involving the corporate entity has actually hit our consumer brand," wrote Mr. Miller to his staffers in an email. (So that's why 846,000 subscribers fled last quarter.) The move comes just as AOL readies a $80 million media blitz for its new 9.0 product.

So, let's see: It took a President with the anti-Commie bona fides like Nixon to establish ties with China and a President with Democratic bona fides like Clinton to "end welfare as we know it." Thus it takes an AOL exec to step up and bend the corporate neck to the blade? Not exactly. Company chatter's long made clear the idea's floated around ever since ... refresh our memory, when was the merger completed? Still Miller's move strikes some as astute politicking. "Clearly, across AOL Time Warner, this is going to be well-received," says one insider.

The AOL Time Warner board could vote next month on the proposal. An AOL Time Warner spokesman declined to comment further on the matter. Doubtless diehard Time Warner-ites think the news signifies the end of an error-er, era. We meant "era."

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