On May 12, 1999, Matt Diamond, James Johnson and Sam Gradess were visiting San Francisco for a last round of meetings with West Coast investment analysts. They were just days from the initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Alloy.com, the catalog and Internet merchant of teenoriented clothing that they had founded on Diamond’s graduation from Harvard Business School in 1996. Snarled in freeway gridlock, Diamond was on his cellphone discussing the IPO’s pricing with analysts back in New York City. An analyst urged Diamond to respond to an invitation by the world’s largest Website and portal, America Online (AOL), to make Alloy an anchor tenant on its teen shopping site. AOL wanted $2 million per year for the rights….