The two parties had nothing in common - the groom a geeky young upstart, the bride an experienced older woman. Until then, Case's judgment had been exemplary. By 1996, AOL had 4.6 million subscribers and, two years later, it smartly bought CompuServe and Netscape. But AOL's surprise match with Time Warner left the business community gawping in disbelief. Had the start-up overreached itself? How could techies work alongside creatives? Doubt yielded to worry. The honeymoon ended prematurely - shortly after the deal, shares in the group slumped by 75%. Case resigned as CEO in 2003, and the firm quietly dropped AOL from its moniker. Last month, Case left Time Warner for good. In the present hot M&A climate, it's a salutary tale.