It's a gift from Steve Case: a big Hawaiian shirt hanging in Jonathan Miller's office. Case, the founding visionary, wears such things. Miller, 46, a soft-spoken executive brought in to rescue AOL, wouldn't be caught dead in one. He keeps his in a frame.
In a company molded by powerful personalities, Miller is a quiet anomaly. In small meetings at headquarters, he seeks consensus. At large gatherings, like the Dec. 3 unveiling in New York of AOL's new vision, he speaks stiffly.
Miller lacks charisma. But the Harvard University grad, who made his mark in e-commerce at USA Interactive, is brainy but approachable. Even as a high-paid commuter in New York, say friends, he lugged reading material in a white shopping bag. He's known as a listener, which should help him glean lessons from customers and colleagues.
That's already happening. A colleague's "eye-opening" talk sold him on a new broadband strategy, he says: "It pointed the way we had to go."
Now, Miller must make money on broadband, cashing in on Time Warner properties from Madonna to Tony Soprano. Maybe then he'll put on the Hawaiian shirt. Then again, maybe not.