The post-Ted Turner era officially began at Time Warner Friday with the end of his term on the board; his last appearance, fittingly, was at the shareholders’ meeting held in Atlanta. Of course, it’s been some time since Turner actually could exert any serious influence at the company. One aspect remains the same — Time Warner is still dealing with the detrius of the merger with AOL that nearly destroyed the company. Chairman and CEO Dick Parsons has been firm in his public stance that AOL is on the right track as it continues a transition toward advertising support; the Street has yet to reward the move and there’s no sign of that happening as long as the company loses more from sliding sub numbers than it gains from the new model. In an interview with the AJC, Parsons attributed the stuck stock to uncertainty: “… We’ve had clouds of uncertainty swirling around the media industry for the last several years, in terms of how will these so-called old media companies adjust to the onset of all this new technology and new competitors. The way you ultimately deal with all that uncertainty is you continue to perform.”
Meanwhile, The Economist makes a case for selling AOL, built, in part, on omitting nearly anything that might be said in the Time Warner division’s favor. For instance, in a section about how AOL ignores other TW divisions when it develops new sites, a note that “new celebrity site, TMZ.com, does not use material from Time Inc’s People magazine and websites. Time Warner’s divisions are mostly developing digital strategies independently of AOL.” Not mentioned — IN2TV, developed with TW sibling Warner Brothers.
Speaking of siblings, one of the toughest pieces of late about AOL comes from Stephanie Mehta at Fortune, who, writing of new AIM Pages and AIM Phoneline, takes AOL to task for not being innovative enough. “More worrisome, however, is AOL’s pattern of improving on other companies’ ideas rather than inventing new services itself. Since its inception, AOL has billed itself as a leading online communications and community-builder. Doesn’t that sound like a company that should have come up with MySpace?”