Former Time Warner executive Gerald Levin dead at 84

Gerald Levin, the media executive who was one of the architects of the failed Time Warner and AOL merger of the early 2000s, died this week.

Levin, 84, had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was living in California, The New York Times reported.

One of the most powerful executives during an era in which cable viewership was at an all-time high, Levin and then-head of AOL Steve Case constructed what was at the time one of the largest business acquisitions in American history.

After the creation of AOL Time Warner, the company’s stock price fell more than 30 percent, and it posted a loss of nearly $100 billion in 2002, at the time a record for any company, the Times reported.

The company’s failure is widely seen as one of the biggest casualties of the dot-com bubble burst at the turn of the century.

“While I think it’s fair to criticize Jerry, it wasn’t a total case of Jerry being wrong so much on the merits, as some of the facts about the appeal of AOL were — and let me say it very carefully — grossly overstated,” Fay Vincent, a former commissioner of Major League Baseball who sat on the boards of both companies, told the newspaper. “It turns out we got on the wrong horse.”

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