Steve Case: Brilliant Visionary or Fumbling Clod?

The ever-suspicious Lucy Kellaway has a typically fun interview with ex-AOL CEO Steve Case in today’s FT. While Kellaway comes to no specific conclusions about Case — she wonders throughout whether he is a brilliant visionary or a fumbling clod — the piece does have some nice writing:

…he is a caricature of a certain sort of clean and tidy American with an unlined, round face and a neat crop of brown hair that looks as if someone has drawn it on to his head with a felt-tipped pen. Blue blazer, blue shirt, conservative tie. Mr Normal, in fact.

And then there’s this, on his style of speech:

He talks fluently, and yet what comes out sounds odd. It is as if he is reciting something he learnt earlier, rattling off great passages of prose. You only realise quite how impenetrable it is when you write it down.
Yes, but why not just take it easy, I ask. Why not do nothing? “Curiosity,” he says, flatly. And then adds, “Passion.” His hands move, but his eyes don’t. His lips don’t part enough to show his teeth.

While Ms. Kellaway is fairly hard on Mr. Case, she does allow him a softer moment or two, and even seems downright kindly over the sadly premature death of Case’s brother Dan. All in all, it is the kind of puzzled and vaguely superior piece that could only appear in a U.K. paper — and it is well worth reading.


  1. If it were not for its tethering to TW, AOL would be a penny stock right now. So with regards to enhancing shareholder value, Case gets high marks and Gerald Levin gets very low marks.