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Case addresses AOL members on buyout

The online giant's chief writes a letter to members about the company's buyout of Netscape and how it will affect the service.

The following is a letter from America Online chief executive Steve Case to AOL members about today's buyout of Netscape.

Dear Members:

As you may see in the news, we have announced that AOL will acquire Netscape, one of the true pioneers of the Internet, and a company with remarkable talent, cutting-edge technology and a passion for delivering tools and software that expand the horizon of the Internet.

This acquisition represents another important step forward for AOL as we lead the development of a robust interactive medium that adds convenience to people's lives and benefits society. It will also accelerate our ability to bring our members even more benefits of the Internet.

Once this transaction is complete, which should take a few months, Netscape will continue to operate as a separate brand, run out of its headquarters in Mountain View, California, and supported by the AOL business infrastructure. This is the same approach that has worked so successfully for other brands in the AOL family, including CompuServe, AOL.com, Digital City, AOL Instant Messenger, and ICQ.

We will work closely with the Netscape team to bring even greater convenience, ease-of-use, and usefulness to people using all of our services. In particular, we believe that will enable us to deliver on the potential to make online shopping consistently easy, convenient, comprehensive, and customer-friendly.

And, because in this new environment we expect more companies to be searching for solutions that help them provide products to online customers quickly and effectively, we also have entered into a strategic alliance with Sun Microsystems to develop those electronic commerce solutions for businesses.

What all of this means for you, of course, is a better online experience and a wider choice of tools, services, features, and online shopping offerings from world-class brand names. What this doesn't mean is any change or disruption in how the service looks or works. The content you enjoy, the email, Buddy Lists, chat and instant messaging communications tools you depend on, the local features of Digital City, the Internet browser, and everything else about the service will all remain unchanged and as easy to use as ever.

We are very pleased to welcome Netscape to the AOL family. As a team, we know we can continue to make the online experience an even more valuable part of people's daily lives.

Warm Regards,

Steve Case