In a flurry of messages in an America Online chat room, the company's own customers questioned its decision to buy Time Warner Inc., the world largest media company, for about $166 billion in stock.
"AOL is crazy to pay that much for [Time Warner]," one participant wrote.
A few participants communicated pessimism about the short term potential for AOL investors.
"AOL is nowhere anytime soon," one chat participant wrote.
Others found hope in the future, saying that if AOL Chief
Executive Steve Case, the new chairman of AOL Time Warner, was in it for the long haul, so were they.
"Patience, soldier, patience," one participant wrote.
Said another: "Ten years from now, they'll be people saying wish I would
bought AOL in 2000."
However, the most pressing concern in AOL's "Investor to Investor" chat room was why the Web giant's stock was lower on news of the deal.
Some speculated that Time Warner's debt and slow growth were scaring away investors. Others speculated that the buying company's stock always decreases after mergers.
Despite such dismay, several participants believed the merger secured AOL's future in a highly competitive Internet and telecommunications industry.
One participant even grew nostalgic. "My cup runneth over with AOL from its beginnings . . . why I remember changing its nappies."
Meanwhile, several had thoughts about how the merger would benefit CNN head Ted Turner.
"Ted Turner said it reminded him of making love with what he made off AOL today," one participant wrote.
"My question is who gets custody of Jane Fonda and John Rocker?" another said, referring to Turner's recent separation from Fonda.
And the jokes continued. One answer to why AOL stock was decreasing was "maybe Jane took her cut."