steve chase

Steve Case – the ‘Mark Zuckerberg of the 1990s’

steve chase

Here’s a bounce-back story that’s hard to beat. Steve Case – the ‘Mark Zuckerberg of the 1990s’ – saw over $200 billion in value evaporate when he merged AOL with Time Warner. Today, he made back $100 million with the $500 million sale of Zipcar to Avis.

From 2000 to 2005, Steve dropped from the height of the Web 1.0 bubble from running AOL Time Warner with a market value of $280 billion to seeing the company fall in value to just $84 billion in 2004.

He lost over $200 billion in company value in 5 years – more than the entire wealth at the time of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Jack Welch, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch, plus all the founders of eBay,, Yahoo! and Google combined … *poof!*

Steve arguably invented Social Media. AOL was the leading online community before its downfall. At AOL’s peak, no one could see the fall he endured coming. The implosion of AOL Time Warner was the greatest, fastest mass destruction of company wealth in history. What did he do when he hit the ground?

In 2005 Steve resigned, regrouped, and launched ‘Revolution’ – a company to “invest in people and ideas that can change the world”. He moved on with the times, and decided to focus on how the Internet was no longer just for “.com” Internet businesses, but “how it impacts important things: education, transportation, health care, communication – big things that affect people’s every day lives.”

Four years later, in 2009, Steve’s bet on the next stage of the Internet began paying off. He sold Revolution Money to American Express for $300 million.

Last year, in 2012 his personal wealth through Revolution grew by another $400 million, and on the first working day of 2013 he just made another $100 million with the sale of ZipCar, the car-sharing company he has a 20% stake in, to Avis.

Whatever challenges or disasters you are bouncing back from this year, think about Steve losing $200 billion, and bouncing back.

As he says “Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and you really work hard and you bring the right perspective to it. You shouldn’t focus on why you can’t do something, which is what most people do. You should focus on why perhaps you can, and be one of the exceptions.”

It’s a new year, and I’m looking forward to bringing you the most inspiring entrepreneur stories through 2013. Steve has set us off to a good start.

Be one of the exceptions, and have an exceptional year.