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16-Hour Days

AOL founder Steve Case ’80 is back.

The founder of Revolution LLC is making big promises. He’s done it before. In 2000, as chief executive officer of America Online Inc., Case pitched the acquisition of Time Warner Inc. to his shareholders, saying it would create new ways for people to shop and communicate.

Case was wrong. The biggest acquisition in history cost investors more than $100 billion from its 2001 close through July 28, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That staggering loss hasn’t weakened Case’s stand that the deal was the right thing to do.

D’uh! It is surprising to see such a naive Bloomberg article. Case saved the shareholders of AOL billions of dollars by merging with Time Warner. He did exactly what a good, even great, CEO should do. The shareholders of Time Warner were screwed over, but Case isn’t responsible for their welfare.

Could this part be true?

Case regularly logs 16-hour workdays in his new life, as he did at AOL, and he’s just as single-minded about his pursuits, colleagues say. “Steve almost never does anything on the spur of the moment,” says Miles Gilburne, a former AOL executive who’s on Revolution’s board. “He’s very methodical.”

What is the point of having a billion dollars if you are going to work 16-hour days? I suspect that this is fluff, that Case doesn’t work that hard. He has 5 children! Doesn’t he go to their soccer games and ballet recitals? If not, he ought to learn something from the life of Vince Fuller ’52, as should we all.