Photo: Steve Case
Didn’t get to go to one of AOL’s (numerous) 25th anniversary parties?Don’t worry, one of our sources took notes. Here’s his report from the field:
Tim Armstrong said that more than 500 AOL alumni had RSVPed to the 25th anniversary party. As one of those alumni, it was a pleasant surprise to come to a party that was typical of the company 4-5 years ago: a massive tent, multiple food and drink stations, games for the kids, etc. Looking at the bounty, you have to wonder how many ex-employees’ salaries it took to pay for it all, particularly since AOL’s 25th anniversary could have come and gone without anyone necessarily noticing. And the tent sat very near the pedestrian bridge that stretches to 4 massive buildings that AOL no longer occupies.
Tim is certainly less the cartoonish nouveau CEO in person than he is portrayed in blog posts, and he seemed to make an effort to say “we” rather than “they” in talking about, so definitely points for trying. There were a lot of executive faces on the stage at the end that were quite new and young; you wonder what it took to get them to come to AOL. Great to see Ted, Steve Case, etc. Of course, this is not the first time that an AOL CEO has brought them back to rally the troops, so their presence can’t really be seen as an endorsement (it didn’t work for Randy Falco).
The party was a lot like your high school reunion; you walked away with some nostalgia after rehashing some good stories. But a reunion, by its nature, isn’t about the future, so I didn’t get a sense of what’s next for AOL from the event. Hopefully the current employees didn’t walk away with the same feeling.