"They were in a dark room, feeling their way along the wall," says a former Time Inc. executive, "trying to come up with something that sounded credible next to Disney's carefully articulated GO Network plan. But it was Monty Python's Flying Circus. 'Do we want our hub to be a traffic aggregator?' 'What is a traffic aggregator?' 'What's a hub again?' In a room of 30 people, there'd be 27 trying desperately to pretend they understood what was going on and 3 banging their heads on the table, crying, 'Oh God, please make this stop!'" http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.09/aol_pr.html
Every so often I explain to people that I spent 5 years at AOL, nearly all of them doing online journalism and the question that comes up most is about the merger. I think it's a shame it didn't work, because nobody has got the fusion of old media and new media exactly right and together AOL and Time Warner had a lot of puzzle pieces. But when people say it was only the share price that went wrong, I point them at this paragraph from a Wired analysis of the mess Time Warner made of Internet strategy on its own.