|Name: Steve Case||Find on Amazon India: Link|
|Nationality: American||Find on Amazon: Link|
I do think actually in this case the government does get credit for funding some of the basic research.
I continue to have a special pride and passion for AOL, and I strongly believe that AOL – once the leading Internet company in the world – can return to its past greatness.
From a relatively early age I got interested in business.
For better or worse, that is true with any new innovation, certainly any new technological innovation.
There’s many good things that come out of it, but also some bad things. All you can do is try to maximize the good stuff and minimize the bad stuff.
Five or ten years ago, when it was clear the Internet was becoming a mainstream phenomenon, it was equally clear that a lot of people were being left out and could be left behind.
But the idea that some day people would want to be able to interact and get stock quotes and talk with other people or all these different things, I just believed that was going to happen.
Because I do think – not just in building AOL – but just the world in which we live is a very confusing, rapidly changing world where technology has accelerated.
And what we did with this new company in 1985 is we did start focusing on PCs instead of video game machines, because we learned the hard lesson about bringing a product to market in a consumer world where it’s very expensive to build a brand and get distribution and so forth.
And I’d say one of the great lessons I’ve learned over the past couple of decades, from a management perspective, is that really when you come down to it, it really is all about people and all about leadership.
I had an older brother who passed away recently, an older sister and a younger brother.
And so the idea was, well maybe you can take an Atari video game machine, where people plug in a game cartridge, and plug in a modem, and tie that into a telephone, and essentially turn that game in the machine into an interactive terminal.
Nowadays people seem to switch schools, either because they have to, and certain schools only serve certain grades, or because they move to a different place or have some particular interest, but I was in the same school for 13 years.
You have to get along with people, but you also have to recognize that the strength of a team is different people with different perspectives and different personalities.
When I first got started in the late ’70s, early ’80s, and first was thinking about the interactive world, I believed so fervently that it was the next big thing, I thought it would happen quickly.
We don’t want to turn the TV into a computer.
There are no road signs to help navigate. And, in fact, no one has yet determined which side of the road we’re supposed to be on.
The idea that maybe you don’t have to own a car if you only need one occasionally may catch on, just like time-sharing caught on in real estate.
So you have to force yourself out of a comfort zone and really try to figure out what are the key ingredients, the key skill sets, the key perspectives that are necessary, and then figure out a way to attract the very best people to fill those particular roles.
So we believed that strategic alliances and partnerships were critical, and we did that for five years.
So my degree was in political science, which I think was – the closest I could come to marketing is politics.
I do think that a general liberal arts education is very important, particularly in an uncertain changing world.
One of the biggest challenges we had in the first decade was not that many people had personal computers. There weren’t that many people to sell to, and it was hard to identify them.
I enjoyed high school and college, and I think I learned a lot, but that was not really my focus. My focus was on trying to figure out what businesses to start.
Nobody should have to be a systems integrator to make a convergence network work in their home.
My father and his brothers were all lawyers, so I think that the expectation was probably for me to grow up to be an attorney, but it never really fascinated me that much. I was more interested in building things.
It’s stunning to me what kind of an impact even one person can have if they have the right passion, perspective and are able to align the interest of a great team.
If you’re doing something new you’ve got to have a vision. You’ve got to have a perspective. You’ve got to have some north star you’re aiming for, and you just believe somehow you’ll get there, which kind of gets to the passion point.
I was not an outstanding student. I did a reasonable amount of work. I got generally good – pretty good grades, but I was not that passionate about getting straight A’s.
I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii.
I think the support of the other team at AOL and everybody’s really shared passion and belief about this and – saying that some day everybody was going to be on line.
I think it took us nine years to get one million subscribers to AOL, and then in the next nine years we went from one million to 35 million.
Most of the people who had PCs did not have modems and could not use those PCs as communicating devices. They really were using them for spreadsheets or word processing or storing recipes or playing games or what have you.
One of the problems with computers, particularly for the older people, is they were befuddled by them, and the computers have gotten better. They have gotten easier to use. They have gotten less expensive.
The software interfaces have made things a lot more accessible.
My father still is a lawyer, and my mom was a teacher and then later a career counselor.