Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

He’s Baaaaaack: Steve Case Reemerges at AOL


As BoomTown reported earlier today, AOL was abuzz with the rumors that former execs from the online service’s glory days, including still controversial former CEO Steve Case (pictured here), might make an appearance at a huge staff pep rally called by its new CEO Tim Armstrong.

And so Case did show up in front of a cheering crowd this morning, along with former AOL vice chairman Ted Leonsis.

Considering that many at Time Warner (TWX), which owns AOL, still harbor resentment towards Case about the disastrous merger between it and AOL a half-decade ago, the move is groundbreaking for the troubled online service and perhaps a sign that it is finally time to move forward.

In related news, Sasquatch will appear on the Time Warner-owned CNN’s “Larry King Live” show tonight.

The appearance by Case took place on AOL’s former HQ in Dulles, Virginia, on the tented lawn of the sprawling campus for the company, which only a decade ago was the dominant online powerhouse.

The event was broadcast to the AOL empire worldwide, reaching thousands of employees, and included all of AOL’s top execs and several from Time Warner, such as General Counsel Paul Cappuccio and CFO John Martin.

Leonsis, who gave a “lucky” green tie to Armstrong, engendered cheers as he spoke of the importance of change.

But it was Case’s entry that was a shock to the standing-room only audience of 1,000. He told the crowd that he would be a “cheerleader on the sidelines” for AOL.

Both Case and Leonsis talked about putting the past behind the service–and there is a lot of past to put behind, I might add, between AOL and the media giant–and were very supportive of Armstrong.

Armstrong, who was a key advertising exec at Google (GOOG), made the point of joking that Case and Leonsis were “on the payroll” at AOL again.

Armstrong focused mostly on AOL products, rather than its troubled history, employee morale and the importance of reviving the famous but tarnished brand.

And to get AOLers jazzed again about reviving the service, Armstrong asked rhetorically: “Are you committed to putting America back online?”