At last, an end is in sight for Steve Case's misadventure in the healthcare industry. Revolution Health, his health-information website, is in merger talks with Everyday Health, a better-run, New York-based rival with more Web traffic. The combination would have more traffic than WebMD. Three's a trend, isn't it? If the deal goes through, this will be the third time Case has dumped a company he mismanaged on someone else's shareholders.
The first, most famously, was AOL, which he offloaded on Time Warner's shareholders. The second, less well known, was Flexcar, a car-sharing startup which he ended up combining with Zipcar. Dumping Revolution Health would just be the latest face-saving exit for Case.
That the rationale for the deal with Everyday Health is consolidating Web traffic speaks to Case's diminished ambitions. Instead of transforming healthcare, as he loudly said he hoped to do, Case has ended up optimizing websites for search engines. Case's holding company would retain some other health-related startups after the proposed deal, including clinic chain Redi-Clinic and insurance broker Extend Health. None show transformative promise, but unlike Revolution Health, they at least sound like sensible businesses.