News & Politics

What AOL Leaves Behind

The company that Jim Kimsey, Steve Case, and Ted Leonsis built is decamping to New York. But lots of boldface names are sticking around, along with plenty of money and sizzle.

After Steve Case joined Control Video, a struggling Vienna company, in 1983, he tried to persuade his boss, CEO Jim Kimsey, to move the company to Silicon Valley.

Kimsey, a Washington native whose dad had been a government messenger, wouldn’t hear of it. “This is my hometown,” he said, “and I’m not moving.”

Thank you, Jim.

Control Video later became AOL, the Internet juggernaut that was midwife to Washington’s go-go economy in the 1990s as the area was transformed from a second-rate tech town to a Silicon Valley challenger.

Even more, the company—and its many wealthy executives—quickened the pace of life. Business, real estate, politics, sports, and culture all popped with energy and new possibilities.

This spring, AOL moves its headquarters to New York City—an effort to shake the doldrums that followed the dot-com crash and the 2001 merger with Time Warner. Here we trace the legacy of the company’s years as a Washington institution.

Case, who succeeded Kimsey as CEO, left AOL’s leadership in 2003 but has made Washington the headquarters of his new company, Revolution Health. Ted Leonsis, a key Case hire at AOL, also remains here as a wheeler-dealer entrepreneur.

And Kimsey? Washington’s most loyal resident isn’t going anywhere.

Click here to see the map of the legacy of AOL's years as a Washingtonian institution.