Steve Case, the embattled founder of AOL, has stated that he plans to step down in May from the mega media empire he helped create. Whenever the great fall back to earth the resulting sound is less shockwaves and more schadenfreude. We all love to see the mighty return back to the meek. But Steve Case does not warrant such treatment. Here’s why:
• Case loved AOL more than anything else.
• Case’s passion and smarts brought millions of mainstream AOL users online. This, in turn, made online news and shopping economically viable.
• Without Case, AOLTW merger has been completely undone.
• With the merger undone, AOLTW suits will try to muscle larger more sweeping control of the Web.
Over the next few days, there will be plenty of pundits speculating why “synergy” could not save Case or the merger. Certainly other media organizations who have shifted or thought of shifting their Web operations in to low gear will take note. It will be interesting to see what impact this has for the rest of us.