AOL, Time Warner: What’s next?
Like most folks in the country, I have just watched the evening news and am trying to think about what effect the largest merger in history – America Online and Time Warner – might have on us in rural Nevada. The new company, with combined revenues of $31.6 billion, through either publishing or Internet services, touches nearly every one of us.
The pace of change is staggering. Think back a mere 20 years and recall that in 1980, IBM did not even sell home computers! A 24-year-old Harvard dropout, Bill Gates of Microsoft, had not yet even paid a measly $50,000 to purchase the operating system rights that run nearly every computer today. Massive amounts of information are at our fingertips, although the quality of that information is somewhat dubious. Albert Einstein said, “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts!” Never has that been more poignant than now. Data can be easily obtained that can likely support any argument that can be imagined.
What I think the cumulative effect all of this has is that it is now more imperative than ever in Douglas County government to employ people with broad talents and good instincts. The good news is that I think I can speak for all of the commissioners in saying that we would put our staff up against any in the state or, for that matter, our neighboring states. This is not to imply that there is not room for improvement, but we are moving into an interesting era when local government may be more user-friendly than many of the companies that have evolved out of “merger mania.” Strange days, indeed. Much too often it can be a daunting task to even reach a real voice rather than a recording to inquire about a billing error with a private national company, much less stand at a public counter to correct things.
I tried to think of an example of a company that does $80 million in business a year where I could pick up the phone and talk to a member of the board of directors or call their chief executive officer. I can’t think of one, but you can with Douglas County government. We’re a relatively small company, and about 43,000 of us own all the stock. Real people run our company, my neighbors and yours. Our “corporate culture” is that we genuinely care.
For all of my life in this county, Douglas has always been thought of as the “classiest” county in the state. I’m quite proud to say it still is.