America Online Inc. is celebrating an
historic moment before the turn of the century, as the leading service
provider in the world announced Friday its current membership has topped 20 million.
membership milestone includes 10 million subscribers that have joined AOL
over the past two years.
To put AOL’s achievement in perspective, its subscriber base represents
twice the number of people that watch the USA, ESPN, Nickelodeon, MTV, TBS,
CNN, and CNBC cable networks during prime-time, combined. If AOL were a
country, its population would rank 43rd among the United Nations’ 188
Steve Case, AOL chairman and chief executive officer, said he was humbled
by the watershed achievement and wanted to thank the 20 million families
using AOL services.
“As AOL reaches this important milestone at the start of the Internet
Century, we value and celebrate the 20 million AOL members who are helping
us to make the interactive medium a central and valuable part of everyday
life.” Case said.
“Our fast-growing AOL community is creating an increasingly dynamic online
experience for all of our members, and leading the growth of this exciting
medium around the world. We are gratified that 20 million families are now
using AOL, and we look forward to a more connected society where millions
more will come online,” he added.
AOL executives credit its 4.0 and 5.0 software upgrades, service
expansion into more than 15 countries with portals in seven different
languages, and the expansion of their AOL Anywhere wireless strategy for
the two-year surge from 10 million to 20 million members.
Bob Pittman, AOL president and chief operating officer, said everyone was
proud that AOL is becoming one of the most respected and best-known global
“We are continuing to expand and enhance our member experience with new
features, functionality, content and e-commerce opportunities, and we are
committed to making AOL available anywhere on all emerging interactive
platforms,” Pittman said.
AOL also announced Friday that it would commit $20 million toward its
efforts to span the “digital divide” and offer expanded access to rural and
The AOL Foundation is supported by the volunteer activities of AOL
employees. AOL plans to utilize the foundation to boost the effectiveness
of servicing areas of the world that do not have access to the Internet.
Case said that because AOL is recognized as a global leader in the
industry, the company needs to make sure that everyone has the same
opportunity to join the global online community.
“As we build this medium, we recognize our responsibility to help ensure
that nobody is left behind. The commitment of $20 million for Digital
Divide programs represents a significant opportunity for all of us at
America Online to give back to the community and do our part to help ensure
the benefits of the Internet revolution are widely available to everyone,
“We will combine the resources of the company with the skills and
enthusiasm of our employees to boost the effectiveness of the best ideas
and programs operating across the country to bridge the digital divide,” he