The Journal Gazette
 
 
Tuesday, May 04, 2021 1:00 am

Verizon finds buyer for AOL, Yahoo

Gets $5 billion for internet's early platforms

MICHELLE CHAPMAN and TALI ARBEL | Associated Press

AOL and Yahoo are being sold again, this time to a private equity firm.

Wireless company Verizon will sell Verizon Media, which consists of the once-pioneering tech platforms, to Apollo Global Management in a $5 billion deal. Verizon said Monday that it will keep a 10% stake in the new company, which will be called Yahoo.

Yahoo at the end of the last century was the face of the internet, preceding the behemoth tech platforms to follow, such as Google and Facebook. And AOL was the portal, bringing almost everyone who logged on during the internet's earliest days.

Verizon spent about $9 billion buying AOL and Yahoo during two years starting in 2015, hoping to jump-start a digital media business that would compete with Google and Facebook. It didn't work – those brands were already fading even then – as Google and Facebook and, increasingly, Amazon dominate the U.S. digital ad market. The year after buying Yahoo, Verizon wrote down the value of the combined operation, called “Oath,” by about the value of the $4.5 billion it had spent on Yahoo.

Verizon has been shedding media assets as it refocuses on wireless, spending billions on licensing the airwaves needed for the next generation of faster mobile service, called 5G. It sold blogging site Tumblr in 2019 and HuffPost to BuzzFeed late last year. The digital media sector in recent years has been consolidating as companies seek profitability.

The properties Verizon is selling include Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail and the tech blogs Engadget and TechCrunch.

Despite its difficulty competing with tech giants for ad dollars, leading to cost cuts and layoffs, Verizon Media's revenue rose 10% in the most recent quarter from the year before, to $1.9 billion. The division still has nearly 900 million monthly users, and generated $7 billion in revenue in 2020, according to Verizon and Apollo.

Apollo is a big believer in the growth prospects of Yahoo and expects that overall growth in digital advertising will boost Yahoo, too, Apollo senior partner David Sambur in a statement.


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