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Complete with new revelations and on-the-record interviews with key players, There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere is the first detailed examination of the merger’s aftermath by journalist Kara Swisher.
On a quest to discover how the deal of the century became the messiest merger in history, Swisher delivers an engaging narrative and a keen analysis of the "AOL Time Warner debacle" that is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what it all means for the digital future. With $100 billion in losses, a sinking stock price, employees in revolt, ubiqutous litigation, and a recent renaming of the company, AOL Time Warner has indeed become the business story of the 21st Century. As Swisher writes, “It is hard not to feel a bit queasy about the whole sorry mess. . . . It felt a bit like I was watching someone fall down a flight of stairs in slow motion, and every bump and thump made me wince. It made me reassess old ideas and wonder what I had gotten wrong. And it left me deeply confused as to what had happened and, more important, what was coming next.”
For Swisher, finding the answers to what went awry is important because she remains a staunch believer in the digital future—maybe not in the AOL Time Warner merger, but in the essential idea at the heart of it that someday the distinction of old and new media will no longer exist. Borrowing from Winston Churchill, Swisher calls it “the end of the beginning” of the digital revolution. “By that, I mean that it is from the ashes of this bust that the really important companies of the next era will emerge. And that evolution will, I believe, be shaped by what happened—and what is happening now—at AOL Time Warner.”
To figure it all out, Swisher takes her reader on a journey that begins with a portrait of two wildly different corporate cultures and businesses that somehow came to believe, in the crucible of the red-hot Internet era, that they could successfully join forces and achieve unprecedented growth and success. When the merger was announced in early 2000, the irresistible combination was hailed as the new paradigm and its executives—Steve Case, Jerry Levin, Bob Pittman—as popular icons of the future. But after the boom so spectacularly turned to bust and the visions of New Media Supremacy lay in ruins, questions about where the merger went wrong and who was to blame for it quickly emerged.
Most importantly, Swisher looks to the future of both AOL Time Warner and the Internet as she seeks to answer the key question that the noise of the disaster has all but drowned out. Will the demise of the AOL Time Warner merger be the final and inevitable chapter of the dot-com debacle or will it herald a new paradigm altogether?
There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere, then, is a primer for the time to come, using the story of the AOL Time Warner merger as the vehicle to show the troubled journey into the future.
"Swisher uses her access to most top AOL executives and Levin to deliver a story that races along in Internet time about one of the seminal events in media history." —Publishers Weekly