HOW AOL LOST THE BATTLES BUT WON THE WAR

AMERICA ONLINE DEFIED THE TECHIES, CATERING TO THE CHATTING MASSES. ITS SURPRISING DEAL COULD MAKE CEO STEVE CASE'S STRATEGY LOOK BRILLIANT

Being a visionary is not the same thing as being popular. Odds are, if you're a visionary, most of your years have been a struggle to get others to see what is so apparent to you. This requires arguing people out of long-held beliefs, absorbing countless verbal assaults and clinging to your judgment while friends wonder when you'll start explaining your position to your dog. Yet with every passing day, you grow more certain that you're right.

For the best part of 15 years now, Steve Case has nurtured a vision. Back in the days when modems creaked along at 300...

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