AOL, All Grown Up

By Kendra Marr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 1, 2007


An instant message alerts AOL employee Steve Rice that his daughter's newest potty training feat was a success.


Rice thanks the child-care center via instant message for the amusing, but helpful, update.

Potty training isn't exactly an emergency, and Rice isn't much of an anxious parent.

But if he were, he could e-mail AOL's parent coach for toddler advice. He could watch a live video feed on his computer of his daughter napping in the child-care center. Or he could walk over to the center and eat lunch with her.

AOL is growing up. The average age of employees is 35. While that might seem young, for a company once filled with young, single techies, it's quite a turning point in office culture.

When Rice, now the technical director of, arrived at AOL 12 years ago, it was as if the company were going through its wild teenage years, he said.

Relationships blossomed as AOL grew into a more established Internet and software company. Rice married a fellow employee. In his circle of friends, he knew 10 other AOL couples.

Even co-founder Steve Case met his wife at the company.

Today, about half of the 4,000 employees at AOL's Dulles campus are parents, many of whom are long-time staff members, said Mary Barnes, vice president of portal operations and planning and head of AOL's parents group.

"I feel like there's been a birth explosion here," said Barnes, who has three daughters.

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