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Internet Oldies AOL And Yahoo Are Sold ... Again

Verizon is spinning off AOL and Yahoo
Justin Sullivan
Getty Images
Verizon is spinning off AOL and Yahoo

Yahoo and AOL, two of the internet's oldest and best-known brands, will have a new owner. Again.

Verizon announced it is spinning off the properties, which it acquired in separate transactions in 2015 and 2017, to the private equity firm Apollo in a deal valued at $5 billion.

In buying AOL and Yahoo, Verizon was hoping to partake in some of the big advertising dollars that large tech companies such as Facebook and Google were raking in.

However, that bet didn't quite pay off as it had hoped, and Verizon ended up writing down sizable losses. At the same time, its rivals' grip on internet advertising has strengthened further

"There was no synergy from the get-go," says Colin Gillis, head of research at Chatham Road Partners.

The acquisitions happened during a time when many telecom companies were trying to branch out. Comcast merged with, then bought, NBCUniversal. AT&T bought Time Warner for $85.4 billion.

According to Gillis, "All the telecoms wanted to avoid becoming commoditized pipes."

Verizon has been spinning off other sites it acquired. Last year, it sold HuffPost to BuzzFeed.

Apollo sees value in Yahoo's name and audience, which is sizable and skews young. It has also grown by double digits in the last two quarters.

In a statement announcing the deal, Verizon and Apollo note Yahoo has "nearly 900 million monthly active users worldwide." The transaction is expected to be finalized later this year, and CEO Guru Gowrappan will continue to be in charge.

Under the terms of the deal, Verizon will hold onto a small stake in the company.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.