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Timeline: AOL & Time Warner

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Nov. 4, 2002:America Online begins trying to profit from the popularity of instant messaging by charging companies a fee to monitor its use in the workplace.

Oct. 23, 2002:AOL Time Warner Inc. announces that it will revise its financial results for a two-year period occurring before and after its merger in January 2001 to account for online ad sales and other deals that improperly inflated revenue by $190 million and one measure of profitability by $97 million.

Oct. 15, 2002:America Online Inc. announces that it will stop accepting new pop-up ads on its Internet service, becoming the latest online company to curb the practice after receiving widespread complaints from users.

Oct. 15, 2002:America Online formally launches the newest version of its online software with a star-studded extravaganza at New York's Lincoln Center that marks a new emphasis for the Dulles-based firm: fending off a competitive threat from Microsoft Corp.

Oct. 8, 2002: A federal bankruptcy judge cancels WorldCom's advertising contract with AOL Time Warner Inc., saving the nation's second-largest long-distance company more than $180 million in fees.

Sept. 25, 2002: Three former executives from Homestore Inc. agree to plead guilty to criminal fraud charges and plan to cooperate with the government's investigation into the company's dealings with AOL Time Warner Inc. and others.

Sept. 12, 2002: America Online announces new details of a broad managerial shake-up that is designed to streamline the company's complicated structure, bolster its high-speed Internet strategy, and restore Wall Street and subscriber confidence in the troubled service.

Aug. 19, 2002: News reports state that both the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating dozens of deals involving AOL Time Warner's America Online division. Most of the deals reportedly involved David M. Colburn, who was ousted earlier in the month from his executive role at AOL.

Aug. 14, 2002: AOL Time Warner acknowledges that it misreported at least $49 million in advertising and commerce revenues -- mistakes the company said it uncovered after 10 previous days of internal investigation. A number of the potential accounting flaws were tied to David M. Colburn, according to the Post story. The admission came the same day the company met the deadline to certify its financial results with the Securities and Exchange Commission, part of the agency's efforts to reform the accounting system.

Aug. 13, 2002: The company confirms that the former chief of America Online's business affairs unit, David M. Colburn, left the company the previous week. Sources told The Washington Post Coburn was ousted on Aug. 9 and locked out of his offices. The reason for his departure was not immediately disclosed.

Aug. 8, 2002: The Washington Post runs a question-and-answer interview with Steve Case, founder of AOL and chairman of AOL Time Warner. Case covers various topics, but maintains his belief that AOL helped power media convergence, not just media mergers.

Aug. 8, 2002: America Online decides to purchase 70 undeveloped acres next to its Dulles campus earlier in the week to cement the area as an "emerging technology zone." Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Aug. 6, 2002: Jonathan Miller, the former head executive of the interactive division of USA Networks, is hired to lead and turn around the troubled America Online unit.

Aug. 5, 2002: The California State Teachers' Retirement System, the nation's third largest pension fund, sues Homestore.com Inc. alleging the online real estate firm was part of revenue-boosting schemes, including deals with America Online.

Aug. 2, 2002: The Securities and Exchange Commission widens its probe into AOL Time Warner's accounting practices, including an investigation into a deal with PurchasePro Inc., a Las Vegas software firm, The Washington Post reports.

July 31, 2002: The Justice Department opens a criminal investigation into the accounting practices of AOL Time Warner, honing in on the business deals of America Online, the Dulles-based online division.

July 30, 2002: David M. Colburn will give up his day-to-day role at America Online, The Washington Post reports. Colburn will stay on in a limited role to work on strategy and other broad areas.

July 24, 2002: AOL Time Warner discloses that the Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into its accounting practices, but the company says it stands behind its accounting. The admission comes on the heels of a Washington Post investigative series on the media giant's accounting practices. Meanwhile, the company reports its financial results for the second quarter. Quarterly revenue rose 10 percent, to $10.58 billion, beating analysts' target of $10.02 billion.

July 19, 2002: AOL Time Warner announces the departure of Robert W. Pittman, the No. 2 officer of the No. 2 company. The news comes after a company board meeting in Dulles. On the same day, The Washington Post runs two articles offering more details on AOL Time Warner's unconventional advertising deals. In one piece, the newspaper detailed the windfall netted in a deal with PurchasePro.com Inc., a Las Vegas-based Internet company. In one deal, AOL gave $9.5 million in cash to PurchasePro for $30 million in stock warrants in the firm, and AOL booked the difference -- $20.5 million -- as ad and commerce revenue. The main article looked at how America Online's business unit regularly awarded employees for their creative work. One perk: Top performers of David M. Colburn's business division were awarded Bammys, a knockoff of television's Emmy awards.

July 18, 2002: An investigative report in The Washington Post reveals a series of unconventional accounting deals involving AOL Time Warner's America Online unit. AOL Time Warner responds to the article in The Washington Post and declares its accounting was appropriate.

July 11, 2002: News reports state that AOL Time Warner has retained executive search firm Spencer Stuart to find someone to head the company's America Online unit in Dulles.

May 18, 2002: Sources tell The Washington Post that AOL Time Warner is planning to lay off more than 100 people at its Dulles-based online unit.

May 16, 2002: At the company's annual shareholder meeting, company officials seek to take responsibility for 2001's poor financial performance, explain why it happened and describe how they intend to turn things around. AOL Timer Warner shares close at $18.89, up 5 cents.

May 15, 2002: The Washington Post outlines an overhaul at AOL Time Warner's Dulles-based online division.

April 24, 2002: The company reported a massive $54 billion loss in its first quarter. AOL Time Warner shares close at $19.30, up 19 cents.

April 9, 2002: AOL Time Warner moves AOL Chairman and CEO Barry Schuler into a new position. Schuler is replaced by AOL Time Warner co-chief operating officer Robert W. Pittman, who returns to run the Dulles-based online unit.

March 25, 2002: News reports state that AOL Time Warner announces plans to take a $54 billion charge. The company's shares close at $24.20, down 30 cents from the previous trading day's closing price.

Jan. 30, 2002: AOL Time Warner reports a widening fourth-quarter loss and a tepid 4-percent revenue gain. The company's shares closed at $26.40, down 30 cents.

Jan. 19, 2002: A Washington Post report says AOL is in negotiations to acquire Red Hat. The company later denied the report.

Jan. 16, 2002: AOL Time Warner Chairman Steve Case kicks off 2002 with a round of high-profile interviews, striving to show that he is still plugged into his company and remains focused on long-term plans, rather than more visible, day-to-day operations.

Jan. 7, 2002: The media giant forecasts poor results for 2002. AOL Time Warner stock closes at $32.69, up more than 70 cents from the previous trading day's closing price.

Dec. 5, 2001: AOL Time Warner chief executive Gerald Levin announces his retirement, adding that Richard Parsons would take the reins in an unexpected management shake-up.

Nov. 1, 2001: J. Michael Kelly becomes the latest high-level executive to take another post at AOL Time Warner Inc. since its merger, stepping down as chief financial officer after the media giant badly missed its financial goals for 2001.

Oct. 17, 2001: AOL Time Warner warned that more cutbacks are on the horizon after its losses widened in the third quarter as a result of continued sluggishness in the advertising market. The company's stock closes at $30.81, down nearly $2 from the previous day.

Sept. 24, 2001: AOL Time Warner says the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, combined with continuing weakness in the advertising market, will drag down its financial results.

Sept. 17, 2001: In the first day of trading after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, AOL Time Warner shares close at $30.00, down more than $4 from the last regular trading day.

Sept. 11, 2001: According to The Washington Post, AOL Time Warner Inc.'s proposal to buy AT&T Corp.'s cable assets prompts rivals to consider offering their own bids, while other competitors and consumer advocates gear up to fight the creation of a new cable giant. On Sept. 10, AOL Time Warner shares closed at $34.41

Aug. 21, 2001: The company announces plans to lay off another 1,700 workers.

July 25, 2001: The Washington Post reports that AOL Time Warner has opened talks with AT&T about combining cable operations.

July 18, 2001: AOL Time Warner reported that second-quarter revenue rose only 3 percent because of weakness in key media divisions. Company shares close at $44.66.

June 19, 2001: The Washington Post reports that AOL Time Warner's senior vice president of business affairs has been placed on leave while the company looks into matters related to partner PurchasePro.com

May 15, 2001: The Washington Post reports on a consumer advocacy group that asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into potential conflicts of interests between AOL and High Speed Access Corp.

April 18, 2001: Excluding one-time items, the world's largest media company reports a profit of 23 cents a share, up from 19 cents a share a year earlier. The company's shares rise 12 percent to $49 a share.

March 12, 2001: AOL Time Warner shares fall more than 8 percent to $39.27.

Jan. 23, 2001: AOL Time Warner announces that it plans to cut about 2,000 employees.

Jan. 19, 2001: The company announces a management reshuffling at its online division in Dulles, Virginia.

Jan. 11, 2001: The Federal Communications Commission clears the way for the merger.

Dec. 18, 2000: Time Warner stock drops more than 13 percent, or $9.56, to $63.16 after warning on revenues and trimming expectations for earnings.

Dec. 14, 2000: The Federal Trade Commission approves AOL's merger with Time Warner but commissioners still wrestle over potential conditions to the deal.

Nov. 14, 2000: The Washington Post reports that AOL and Time Warner struck deals with some of their largest rivals to give them access to cable television lines.

Oct. 17, 2000: America Online Inc. shares plunge 17 percent on concerns of a slowdown in online advertising and uncertainty over its merger plans with Time Warner. Shares of AOL fall $9.01 to $43.60, a new 52 week low.

Oct. 14, 2000: The Washington Post reports that Federal Trade Commission attorneys are preparing court documents to block AOL's takeover of Time Warner, as the two sides remain apart on the exact language of a guarantee allowing rivals access to the combined company's high-speed Internet service.

Oct. 11, 2000: The European Union's executive commission gives final approval for the merger.

Oct. 5, 2000: Time Warner calls off merger with British-owned EMI Group.

Sept. 29, 2000: EarthLink, the nation's second-largest Internet service provider, accuses Time Warner of violating its deal with regulators by insisting on unfavorable financial terms for access to its high-speed cable television lines.

Sept. 27, 2000: A House hearing on the merger turns its focus onto AOL's instant messenger that has been under scrutiny for blocking messages from rival systems.

Sept. 9, 2000: The Washington Post reports that the European Union wants assurance that AOL and Time Warner will allow competitors to retain access to their content and Internet services.

Sept. 4, 2000: The Washington Post reports that the Federal Trade Commission is preparing to block the merger unless the two companies agree to keep cable lines open to competitors.

Aug. 7, 2000: AOL Latin America raises $200 million for sales of its IPO stock for $8 a share.

July 27, 2000: Federal Communication Commission Chairman William E. Kennard raises concerns about the merger and the access the combined behemoth would give competitors to its vast cable network. AOL and Time Warner combined control 20 percent of the nation's cable lines and 40 percent of the Internet access market.

July 20, 2000: AOL reports earnings were better-than-expected at $338 million, or 13 cents a share, up from $157 million, or 6 cents a share, one year earlier. AOL shares rise $2.25 to close at $61.56 on the news.

July 19, 2000: Walt Disney Co., contending that the merged America Online and Time Warner would hold too much media power, proposes that it be split in two - one company handling content and the other handling distribution.

May 15, 2000: America Online agrees to pay a $3.5 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission, settling charges of improper accounting during the mid-1990s.

April 18, 2000: AOL posts $271 million, or 11 cents a share, third-quarter profits, up from $104 million, or 4 cents a share, the same quarter a year before. The company reported adding 1.7 million new subscribers. The stock rises $2 and trades at $60.75.

April 5, 2000: The latest Netscape 6 browser is unveiled.

April 2, 2000: AOL becomes the first Internet firm to join the Fortune 500, ranking at 337.

March 24, 2000: The Washington Post reports that rivals of America Online and Time Warner are going to Capitol Hill to raise competition concerns about the pending merger.


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