Jim Kimsey, the co-founder of Web pioneer AOL, has died of cancer at age 76.
He died Tuesday morning in his home in McLean, Virginia, said his son, Mark Kimsey.
In the early 1980s, Kimsey, a Vietnam veteran, was a Washington, D.C.-area restaurateur. A venture-capitalist friend of his from West Point asked him to take a look at a video game download company called Control Video. That company flailed, and was reorganized into one called Quantum Computer Services, with Kimsey at the helm.
In 1991, that company was renamed America Online, famous for its “You’ve got mail” greeting. It would grow to connect millions of early Internet users with its dial-up service.
Kimsey is credited with supporting and grooming a young Steve Case, today the man largely associated with AOL’s growth and success in the early days of the Internet.
“I think one of the best things I ever did was let Steve run the company,” Kimsey was quoted as saying in a 1995 Washington Post article. “Today that one decision to get out of the way makes me look like a genius.”
Kimsey said in 1995 that he would step down as chairman, years before AOL’s ill-fated merger with Time Warner. Case took over from him.
Mark Kimsey said that after retiring from AOL, his father focused on philanthropy. He started a charitable foundation that focuses on education.
“He viewed himself as a soldier, an adventurer, a father, always looking for some new battle to fight or mountain to climb,” Mark Kimsey said of his father.
He is survived by three sons: Mark, Michael and Raymond.