AOL Co-founder Jim Kimsey Dies at 76
Jim Kimsey, the co-founder, first chairman and former CEO of AOL, died this week at his home in McLean, Va. He was 76 years old. The cause of death was cancer.
Kimsey graduated from West Point in 1962 and served three tours in the army in the Dominican Republic and Vietnam. After leaving the military, Kimsey went into the bar and restaurant industry before getting a job in the 1980s at an online video game startup called Control Video. Though the venture wasn't successful, he helped it grow into Quantum Computer Services, which would ultimately become America Online.
During Kimsey's tenure as CEO, the company launched innovations such as Instant Messenger, went public and hit a million users. The ubiquitous phrase -- "Welcome! You've Got Mail" -- made its first appearance in 1989 under Kimsey's leadership. Kimsey was known for working more behind the scenes, and stepped down from the chairman role in 1995.
Steve Case, a co-founder of AOL who served as CEO and chairman in the '90s, released this statement:
Kimsey was a philanthropist who donated $10 million to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and was also a member of the organization's board of trustees. In 2001, Colin Powell named Kimsey the chairman of the International Commission on Missing Persons. Kimsey also founded the Kimsey Foundation, which provides grants for artistic and educational endeavors.
He is survived by three sons and six grandchildren.
Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.