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AOL’s Sign-up CDs Distribution Costed Over $300 Million Back in 1990’s

AOL used to be king of the dial-up hill. At its peak, over 26.7 million households accessed the Internet via AOL. That success came at a cost, though: those CDs (and floppy disks!) that arrived in your letterbox, often on a weekly basis, cost AOL over $300 million.

The data comes from Quora, when someone asked “How much did it cost AOL to distribute all those CDs back in the 1990’s? And whose idea was it?” In mere moments, both the CEO-at-the-time, Steve Case, and the former Chief Marketing Officer, and Jan Brandt, had chimed in with authoritative responses.

Case recalls, that in the hay day of the mid-1990s, AOL was quite content to spend $35 on obtaining a new subscriber.

Brandt, responded a total cost of “over $300 million,” for the distribution of the CDs. She went on to provide a shocking statistic: “At one point, 50% of the CDs produced worldwide had an AOL logo on it.”


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