Synergy or Bust

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A marriage made in Heaven, but the groom was a bit of a sham. The youngster looked so hunky, rich and strong. But his wealth was just on paper, or was it ether? Call him AOL, his deluded, old-fashioned bride: Time Warner.

The biggest deal in history, it was billed at the time, a new era in marketing, in media, in mega. AOL had the cash, AOL got the marquee name and the Chair.

Fair enough. But 18 months on, some see something shady in the courtship and the ceremony; not illegal, but achieved through careful, clever, “creative” accounting. Then the mantra was “bigger is better.” Drugs, cars and oil companies, telecoms and techs, all competed for the mega-merge. Many took a nose-dive, just check the Dow.


Frank Ahrens, Washington Post staff writer

Jeffery Rayport, CEO of Marketspace, and high-tech, media and entertainment businees analyst

Tom Graves, equity analyst at Standard and Poor’s