For $750 mil, AOL TW decides Microsoft is tits and Netscape is history:
- Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, and Steve Case, the newly unemployed former chairman of AOL Time Warner, were at the same cocktail party this week in North San Diego when AOL officially surrendered in the Browser Wars. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer actually crushed AOL’s Netscape in the marketplace long ago, using WMDs (weapons of monopoly deployment), but the formal surrender papers were not signed until Wednesday.
….In case you missed it, Microsoft, already ascertained by the courts to have used its monopoly powers illegally to crush Netscape, agreed Wednesday to pay $750 million to AOL Time Warner (FORTUNE’s parent) in return for AOL dropping a private antitrust suit. Case bought Netscape for $10 billion back in the heady days of 1999 as a weapon to fight Microsoft. Rather than pursue a trial in an attempt to recover the billions lost to Microsoft’s predatory practices, AOL is tossing in the towel.
Yeah, sure, the Netscape browser is still around and AOL still has more than 200 people working in the Netscape division. But as part of the settlement, AOL asked for and got the right to use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer royalty-free through the end of the decade. The $750 million settlement that AOL will receive from Microsoft isn’t going to bolster the Netscape division, but rather to reduce AOL Time Warner’s crushing debt load.
I’m eagerly awaiting the company memo explaining how Netscape fits into AOL’s plans going forward. It’s hard to see how it does. [Fortune]