Media Executive Gerald M. Levin Dies at 84

Gerald M. Levin, the former CEO of Time Warner who orchestrated its infamous merger with AOL, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 84.

Levin’s grandson, Jake Maia Arlow, confirmed his death to the New York Times, revealing that Levin died in a Long Beach, Calif., hospital. While the cause of death was not disclosed, Levin had been battling Parkinson’s disease.

Appointed co-CEO of Time Warner alongside Steven J. Ross in 1992, Levin assumed sole leadership following Ross’s death from prostate cancer a few months later.

In collaboration with then-AOL CEO Steve Case, Levin announced the $350 billion merger between the two companies on Jan. 10, 2000, during the peak of the dot-com bubble. The merger, forming AOL Time Warner, faced significant challenges, including the dot-com recession, resulting in a historic $100 billion write-down. Levin resigned in 2002 amid the fallout.

Before the AOL Time Warner debacle, Levin began his career as an attorney before transitioning into a programming executive role in 1972 at a regional pay-TV channel known as Home Box Office (HBO).

Within a year, he ascended to the CEO position and, by 1975, successfully persuaded its parent company, Time Inc., to distribute HBO’s signal nationwide via satellite.

Reflecting on his pivotal decision, Levin remarked in James Andrew Miller’s 2021 book “Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers” (as cited by NYT), “Advocating for HBO to be on the satellite was one of the most important decisions of my entire career.

The only way you get ahead is if you see something that no one else sees, and it’s a little crazy. Satellite at that time was kind of a dreamy thing, but the idea of making HBO into a national network rather than relying on a lot of little cable networks was a pretty big idea.”

Josh Alba
Josh Alba
Josh Alba stands at the forefront of contemporary business journalism, his words weaving narratives that illuminate the intricate workings of the corporate world. With a keen eye for detail and a penchant for uncovering the underlying stories behind financial trends, Josh has established himself as a trusted authority in business writing. Drawing from his wealth of experience and relentless pursuit of truth, Josh delivers insights that resonate with readers across industries.
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